County moves to save millions in health care costs

Kitsap County is moving forward with plans to reign in the ever surging cost of employee health care and is looking to save millions of dollars.

Commissioners Robert Gelder and Charlotte Garido approved a pair of measures this week that will audit county employees’ dependents to ensure they are actually eligible for coverage and move the county to a self insurance program.

The $21,000 eligibility audit could save as much as $200,000 and the move to self insurance could save $1 million in 2013 and as much as $12.5 million by 2018.

Commissioner Josh Brown did not vote on the measures as he was out of town this week for the annual National Association of Counties meeting in Pittsburgh.

Gelder said that the moves are an attempt to “go down a path to bend the cost curve down for the county.”

When asked why the county hadn’t done it sooner, Gelder said that it wasn’t a conversation the board was even having when he joined the panel. It is, though, something he’s been thinking about for years.

“We started conversations toward end of last year,” he said. “There’s only so much time and resources and this is just another one of those opportunities that the time is right to do it.”

Gelder said that the move to self insurance will save millions, but won’t change much for employees when they actually seek services and treatment.

The big changes are more about administration than they are about delivery.

“Employees will experience no change in the way their current insurance plan ‘feels’ with regards to their selected health care provider,” said Bob Furuta, the county’s director of personnel and human services. “From the


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