Wednesday, July 24, 2024

Budget Looks to Address Pay, Insurance Costs for York County Employees

York Hall
York Hall

Guided by a recent compensation study, York County Administrator Neil Morgan’s proposed $187.7 million budget comes with pay raises for all county employees on some level and adds a third and more affordable option for health insurance.

The county engaged Evergreen Solutions in March to conduct the study, which compares the county to the market average for pay.

David Gorwitz, director of human resources for the county, told the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday overall the county’s pay structure is a solid program, although salary compression does exist in the lower pay grades.

The study found salary minimums to be 2.7 percent below the market average and near average for midpoints and maximums.

To address salary compression in the lower quartile of pay, Morgan is proposing a 1 percent general wage increase and adjustments to base salary based on tenure. Employees hired between July and December last year would receive a $500 increase to their base salaries and employees hired June 30 or prior would receive a $1,250 increase.

Morgan said the adjustments result in about a 6 percent increase for someone making $25,000 a year and about a 2.3 percent increase for someone making $125,000.

“We do have a pretty respectable compensation package this year. It’s probably a little bit above average for the region,” Morgan said.

Morgan added it has been quite some time since the county has offered a general wage adjustment, only making targeted increases to pay grades in the last three years.

The proposed budget could also help employees’ wallets with a new health insurance option, which Morgan said could help save money if the plan is right for them.

The addition comes as the county continues to compare what employees pay compared to York County School Division employees, which is less in multiple cases where the school division is able to pay a larger portion of the costs.

“Our benefits are decent, but they’re not top of the line,” Morgan said.

In the richest health insurance plans, which are family plans, a school employee’s out-of-pocket expense for a year is more than $2,000 less than a county employee, Morgan said.

“That’s the most extreme example. In the less rich plans, of course, the delta is smaller,” Morgan said about the comparisons.

Supervisor Tom Sheppard said it was important for the county to bridge the gap between the county and the school division regarding employee cost for health insurance.

The county currently offers Anthem KeyCare, a preferred provider organization, and Anthem HealthKeepers, a point of service plan. The majority of employees are enrolled in HealthKeepers.

The county also offers Delta Dental as a stand alone dental plan available to employees.

Each health insurance provider has four tiers of plans, including employee only, employee and child, employee and spouse, and employee and family.

The county pays 79 percent of employee-only plans and 60 percent of family plans from Keycare compared to the school division’s 89 percent and 79 percent, respectively.

For HealthKeepers, the county and school division both cover 93 percent of costs for employee only plans but differ with family plans, where the county covers 71 percent to the school division’s 85 percent.

Morgan said one creative way to start reducing the gap is by offering a third and more affordable option, which could potentially save money for employees and the county.

Morgan is proposing adding Lumenos, which is a consumer-driven health plan and differs from traditional plans in several ways, including higher deductibles and no copayments. Also, members pay allowable charges of services until the deductible is met and the plan is paired with a health savings account.

The county would make a $100 monthly contribution to an employee’s health savings account, which earns interest and can receive funds from both the employer and employee. The account can help pay the deductible, coinsurance and any other qualified medical expenses.

“The attractive thing is you essentially have a 401K vehicle in savings,” Chairman Jeffrey Wassmer said.

The county would also cover the entire cost of the insurance for an employee only plan. The family plan would cost $288 per month under the new option compared to $786 and $490 for KeyCare and HealthKeepers, respectively.

Morgan said ideally an employee who chooses the new option would be able to put some of the savings from paying less per month on health insurance into their health savings account to help offset any healthcare costs.

“If it’s right for them, the employee may be able to save some money, and us as an employer can save some money, too,” Morgan said.

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