Pima County moves toward self-insured health benefit model

2013-03-16T00:00:00Z 2014-07-08T11:20:03Z Pima County moves toward self-insured health benefit modelBecky Pallack Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
March 16, 2013 12:00 am  • 

Pima County is moving to a self-insurance model for its employees' health benefits, which could save taxpayers money in the long run.

The program is expected to cost $46.4 million in the 2013-14 fiscal year.

The projected costs under a self-insured plan will be about 2 percent higher than this year's costs, County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry said in a memo.

The costs were rising much faster under the existing benefits plan, including an 18 percent increase this year over last year, he said.

Most county workers have a high-deductible health plan and a health savings account, and most won't see changes in rates or providers under the new plan.

The Board of Supervisors this month approved a contract with Aetna Life Insurance Co. to administer the medical, pharmacy and employee assistance programs.

It also approved a contract with Symetra Inc. for stop-loss protection against an extreme case where annual claims exceed 20 percent of expected claims, until a reserve fund is built up and the county can protect itself against such an unlikely spike in claims.

The board also established the Pima County Healthcare Benefits Trust with a loan from the county's general fund, which will be repaid with interest.

And they named a board of trustees to oversee the trust fund. The trustees are Northern Trust Bank vice president Henry Boice, former YWCA Tucson executive director Janet Marcotte, retired Raytheon Missile Systems executive Patricia Taylor and physician Neil West, who also chairs the Tucson Unified School District Employee Benefits Trust Board.

On StarNet: Go to azstarnet.com/politics to read more about local and state government and political news.

Contact reporter Becky Pallack at bpallack@azstarnet.com or 573-4346. On Twitter @BeckyPallack.

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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