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Page wants county to pay increased health costs

St. Louis County employees may not be getting that long sought after pay raise, but at least their health insurance won’t cost them more next year.

Page shared recently with the St. Louis County Council that health insurance costs for county employees is anticipated to rise next year by nearly $1.8 million. However, Page does not want to see that increased expense passed on the employees.

“We’ve decided to ask county government to absorb the cost of increased health insurance for our employees,” Page said at the council’s July 30 meeting. “I’m happy that we’re able to do this.”

Not all 4,300 employees participate in the county-sponsored health plan.

Page’s office said after the meeting that increased taxes or reduced spending in other areas will not be needed to offset the added premium costs.

“St. Louis County Budget Director Paul Kriedler found that the actual health-related costs for this year are lower than anticipated, leaving leftover funds which will cover the $1.8 million cost in its entirety,” explained Ellen Lampe, communications coordinator for the county executive.

St. Louis County is self-insured meaning it uses a third party vendor for claim administration. However, the funds to pay employee health claims actually comes from money the county has set aside for those expenses. Therefore, the biggest factors in each county employee’s health insurance costs are the actual costs of healthcare during the previous year and projected costs for the next year.

Council member Tim Fitch [R-District 3] said he was supportive of the proposal by Page.

“Our employees have gone many years with no raises or very little raises,” Fitch said. “It’s a constant issue. We lose many good employees because of it. So anything we can do to keep those out-of-pocket costs down for our employees is a good thing.”

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