Westchester County employees have no reason to complain about the high cost of their health insurance–$7,992 for individuals and approximately $22,000 for families, because they pay nothing for it–unless they are property taxpayers.
County Executive Robert Astorino, a Republican elected in upset victory in November, has proposed requiring 400 nonunion employees to contribute 15 percent toward health costs, saving $1.2 million a year, which would make a small dent in the county’s $60 million budget gap (here).
Democrats, who control the county Legislature, first advanced a more modest proposal that would have excluded nonunion employees working for the district attorney, county clerk, Board of Elections, judiciary and the Legislature itself. (Health benefits for union employees must be negotiated through the collective bargaining process.)
In the face of criticism, the county legislators tabled their proposal and are studying alternatives, such as different health plans, pretax savings accounts, contribution tiers and incentives for employees to opt out of employer insurance plans, the Journal News reports. A spokesman for the county executive called the current costs unsustainable (here).
“It’s not that complicated,” [he] said. “Taxpayers are now paying 100 percent of health-care costs for employees. We think it’s fair that employees share part of that cost.” Westchester is one of four counties statewide that requires no contribution; the others are others Nassau, Suffolk and Wyoming counties.
Thirty-five counties require at least a 15 percent contribution, with others mandating 20 percent, 30 percent and even 50 percent, according to the New York State Association of Counties.
In addition, New York City employees do not contribute toward health benefits.
Westchester County’s health benefits cost $148.8 million this year, up from $66.9 million in 2000, according to the Journal News.
At a legislative hearing, an insurance professional said most employees of mid-size companies pay between 25 to 50 percent of their health-care plans (here).
It’s not uncommon,” said Chris Yandow of Pelham-based Eifert French and Ketchum insurance and risk management. “Virtually all of our groups have contributed to the cost of a health insurance plan. … I wouldn’t say it’s 100 percent having some sort of contribution, but most do. “Business owners are struggling with ‘How do we maintain a good benefit level without bankrupting the company,'” he said.
As reported here Friday, White Plains, the county seat, decided to impose a 15 percent contribution, but only on nonunion employees hired after April 1. The city is facing a possible 23.5 percent tax increase.
Originally Published: NY Public Payroll Watch
You may also like
Enjoying our work? Sign up for email alerts on our latest news and research.
Together, we can make New York a better place to live and work!