I am excited to give this report to King County employees for two reasons.

First, your JLMIC health benefits are great benefits.  The Gold plan is an 85% coverage plan, but the deductibles and out of pocket maximums (which are far more important in terms of their impact on your total out-of-pocket cost) are very low.  And, there’s no premium share.

Second, you are unlikely to see premium share, at least for the foreseeable future.

Two years ago, when we established the $25 million trust fund (or “Protected Fund Reserve”) at the JLMIC, everyone, including the expert advisors at Mercer, was fairly sure that the fund would be gone by 2017.

Now, we know that the Protected Fund Reserve will be alive and well in 2016 and 2017.

We know this because the Protected Fund Reserve is increasing.  My guess is that it will hit $30 million or very close to that number. 

There are several reasons why the Protected Fund Reserve has increased:

  1. The JLMIC has engaged in “selective cutting” which targets waste; 
  2. We have changed the prescription drug “formulary” to eliminate the most expensive and duplicative prescriptions; 
  3. We have implemented expert-recommended programs that make the most out of every health care dollar.

We know that these changes help our trust fund’s fiscal health because the ATU, which did not make these changes, faces a substantial loss, and premium share looks imminent for them.

This year, we increased the spousal benefit access fee from $50 to $75.  The fee is only charged to spouses that have coverage at another workplace. This means that we are essentially subsidizing other employers’ lousy coverage unless we make sure that we charge those spouses what it actually costs us (which is certainly more than $75).  We know that it is more than $75 because after we changed this fee, spousal enrollment increased.  Next year, I will be advocating that we increase the benefit access fee to $100.

The point is:  At the JLMIC we are taking our responsibility very seriously to ensure that King County employees never have to share the cost of the health and welfare premium unless and until there is no other option.

As your Teamster representative on the JLMIC, I plan to write a regular column as we move forward into the negotiations for the next Memorandum of Understanding for 2017 and beyond.

If you have questions, please feel free to comment below.  Or you can write to me privately at  [email protected].