CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Rising health care costs are one of the biggest issues faced by public agencies nowadays, and Kanawha Commission President Kent Carper believes the county will have to explore ways to reduce its burden.
This could include asking employees to pay more than the 20 percent of the total premiums, he said.
But Charleston Mayor Danny Jones does not believe the city is "at that point yet."
"And I don't know if we'll ever reach that point," Jones said.
The county commission pays 80 percent of employees' health premiums, according to figures provided by Chief Fiscal Officer David Fontalbert. This formula hasn't changed for about five years, he said.
About five years ago, the county paid 82 percent and the employees picked up the other 18 percent of the premiums, Fontalbert said.
The county budgeted about $5.8 million for health care costs this fiscal year, he said. That includes the $200,000 administration fee to Blue Cross Blue Shield, as well as other fees, Fontalbert said.
The employees' budgeted contribution is $885,000 for the current fiscal year, he said.
"The commission picks up the lion's share of the cost," Fontalbert said.
Charleston officials have budgeted about $8.98 million for health care costs during the current fiscal year, Finance Director Joe Estep said.
The employees' contributions to the premiums are 21.7 percent while the city pays 78.3 percent, City Manager David Molgaard said.
The percentages paid by city employees versus the city is based on the total amount of health care costs incurred in the previous year, he said.
Therefore, the percentage picked up by the city changes every year, Molgaard said.
Last fiscal year, employees picked up 26.1 percent of the insurance premiums while the city picked up 73.9 percent, he said. The year before that, the city paid 73.8 percent and the employees picked up 26.2 percent.