City looks to rein in health care costs

first_imgFirefighters uinon explores alternative insurance optionIf things don’t change, Vancouver will be at the steering wheel of what the government defines as a Cadillac insurance plan by the time federal health care reforms take effect in 2018.Keeping up a Caddy isn’t cheap, and the cost of providing 1,093 city employees with health care is part of what’s driving the city’s budget into the ground: Health insurance is expected to cost the city $16 million in 2011 — a figure approaching half of the city’s projected $39 million in property tax revenue.The pressure is on, city leaders say, to find a way to stanch the hemorrhaging.“We need to get to the point where we don’t have to solve our budget crisis every two years by laying people off,” said City Manager Eric Holmes, who has made employee compensation a focus since taking his new job in November.Fixing health benefits won’t solve the problem entirely. But as insurance rates rise in the double digits annually — and employee salaries and benefits comprise 70 percent of the budget — it’s a good place to start, he said.Vancouver, based on advice from its contracted insurance brokerage firm, Mercer, has formed a three-point plan to bring costs down and keep them there.last_img

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *