This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.
It took the worst recession since the Great Depression to force the issue, but Pierce County may finally do the unthinkable: require workers to share the cost of their own health insurance.
County Executive Pat McCarthy’s 2010 spending plan is a brutal budget for brutal times. But one of the economies it proposes has long been routine in the rest of the world: splitting the cost of premiums with county employees.
Assuming it’s adopted, this would soften the sweeping budget cuts McCarthy is proposing by a cool $3 million.
It’s amazing that any group of employees is getting free coverage these days. Predictably, this group belongs to the public sector. Private employers, facing market discipline, can’t afford such munificence. The most generous private coverage is generally found within large companies – and they require that employees foot at least a quarter of the bill, on average.
Fully paid premiums break budgets in a couple ways.
Up front, they cost the employer a fortune. According to McCarthy, Pierce County spends an average of $1,000 a month on each worker’s health insurance. Dependents are included regardless of whether they qualify for some other insurance plan. Superior court judges have enjoyed double coverage, from both the county and state.
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