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Medicare Ineligibles: ‘A Risk To The County’

At their meeting on January 24, the Supervisors “blended” Medicare ineligible retirees with the healthcare coverage of current employees.

CEO Carmel Angelo had strongly recommended that the Board keep the retirees separate from current employees because adding these older employees “could be a risk to the county.” I.e., if these retirees increase the County’s healthcare costs by requiring more healthcare than is predicted, the County would have to absorb a good sized chunk of the cost.

In the watered down version of “blending” that the Board voted for — in which retirees will still have to pay more for health insurance than current employees, but less than if they were in a small insurance pool of their own — staff had estimated that it would increase county healthcare costs by about $239k, money that the County will have to find elsewhere in their already tight budget.

With the blended plan the retiree health insurance rates for the 100 or so retirees are estimated to go down from $922 per month to a somewhat less outrageous $663 per month.

After the vote the County’s dapper healthcare consultant, E. Peter McNamara, Senior Vice President-Municipalities in the San Francisco office of Keenan Associates (California’s largest healthcare brokerage), told the board that he was amazed at the unanimous vote to accommodate the retirees, even a little. “Mendocino County is the only public agency I’ve dealt with which is looking to blend,” said McNamara. “Everyone else is separating.”

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