As often happens when complex public policy initiatives are proposed, a few opponents reduce the issue to rhetorical phrases such as “government overreach.”
Such has been the case with Pima County’s effort to reduce the county’s high healthcare costs associated with employee tobacco and nicotine use. The proposed changes are scheduled for consideration by the Board of Supervisors at its Feb. 17 meeting.
Last year, after years of study, planning and preparation, the county switched its employee health-care plan from one purchased from the health insurance marketplace to a self-insured plan. In doing so, we gained better control of our employee health-care costs. Last fiscal year, our health insurance costs increased by about 2 percent under our self-insurance program. The previous fiscal year, our health insurance costs had jumped 18 percent, which had followed several consecutive years of double-digit health insurance premium increases.
Several years before the self-insurance switch, the county began a robust employee health and wellness campaign. Those wellness efforts increased with the self-insurance program.
County employees aren’t just expenses on a balance sheet; they are good and decent people working hard every day to serve the citizens of Pima County. And, from a personal perspective, I want them all to be healthy.
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