Due to strong financial management, the Union County Board of County Commissioners are pleased to announce that amid growing concerns Statewide from union leaders and local government officials about the growing costs of health insurance premiums for those entities enrolled in the State Health Benefits Plan, the County of Union will continue to provide quality medical and prescription benefits to its employees without increasing its premiums and passing additional costs onto its employees or taxpayers with the continuation of its self-insured health plan.
“Health insurance is one of the main benefits employees look for when considering an employer and our Administration remained committed to its ongoing goal of making sure our employees are receiving quality healthcare at little cost,” said Commissioner Chair Rebecca Williams. “I would like to thank County Manager Ed Oatman and Finance Director Bibi Taylor and her team, for working diligently with the Commissioners to offset the hike.”
The State of New Jersey and other local units participating in the State Health Benefits Plan are anticipating rates on premiums to increase by more than 20% in 2023, which may lead to layoffs and property tax increases. The County of Union maintains a self-insured plan, rather than a fully insured plan. The difference between the two is a self-insured plan pays for health claims as they occur and provides health benefits directly to employees whereas a fully-insured plan requires employers to purchase insurance from an insurance company and pays a per-employee premium to the insurance company regardless of usage.
“This is great news for our County employees, as well as our taxpayers,” said County Manager Ed Oatman. “Union County has managed to keep the costs at almost the same as last year and keep our health care premiums stable. Think of it as a water bill, where you only pay for the water you use, whereas, a fully-insured plan is where you pay the same rate, no matter how much or how little you use it. This is a true testament to our strong fiscal management and leadership team.”
In 2022, the County of Union spent approximately $64.9 million and even though this year was budgeted for $78 million, they are on trend to spend around $65 million. Seeking to replicate similar savings and migrate away from State administered plans, Union College and the Union County Vocational Technical Schools have both approved contracts to come under the County’s self-insured plan.
“Affordability and cost savings are always one of our top priorities and we are doing so while still providing a high standard of care, “said Commissioner Sergio Granados, Fiscal Chairman. “Based on what brokers were saying, we were also anticipating a 20% increase this year, but were able to accommodate that increase without passing the additional expense onto taxpayers or employees. The health of our County is fiscally strong and the implementation of our wellness programs, we are happy to be able to keep employee contributions low at year four – without increasing the premiums.”
Each year, Moody’s Investors Services has consistently pointed to the County’s budgeting, cost savings and its strong financial results, and Union County continues to maintain the credit rating of Aaa, which is the highest a county government can achieve.