Lucas County cuts insurance for employee spouses - 13abc.com Toledo (OH) News, Weather and Sports

Lucas Co. cuts insurance for employee spouses

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Toledo, OH -

The 13abc I-team was the first to tell you about cuts coming to the health insurance of Lucas county employees and Tuesday it became official.  Nearly 700 Lucas County employee spouses will be losing the health insurance they now use.

It was a unanimous vote from commissioners and the I-Team is told he vote was approved by almost 90% of union members. 

One of the options for those spouses will be the new health care exchanges from the Affordable Care Act.

From the top dogs in law enforcement to the dog handlers in Lucas County, if a spouse uses county health insurance, they are about to lose it.

"It is something private and public employers have already done in many different sectors in the past years.  We've been able to avoid it in Lucas County," said Lucas County Commissioner Carol Contrada.  

But no more.  Lucas County Commissioners approved the plan Tuesday afternoon, which they believe will save between $2 and $4 million.  It would cut the primary insurance for the spouses and only offer secondary plans.

Lucas County has 3203 employees as of Tuesday.  The county insures 8250 people which includes employees, children and spouses for now.  When this takes affect in March, 680 spouses will be affected. 

"This is going to put the affordable care act to the test.  We're going to be watching it, monitoring it.  We are going to have the ability to go in and make adjustments," said Steve Kowalik, of AFSCME Ohio Council 8. 

Kowalik says his members approved in part because just this year they are taking money from their reserves to pay the health care bills.

"If we did absolutely nothing, we would be looking at about a $4 million deficit going into 2014," said Kowalik. 

Spouses will need to look at their employers, private insurance or look to the newly established health care exchanges.  The I-Team wanted to know if there is any worry that this will keep qualified people from wanting to take a county position in the future.

"We don't think this is going to make us less competitive and in fact it's something that other public agencies have considered and are doing," said Contrada.   

The children of the employees will still covered.

AFSMCE leaders told the I-Team they were hoping for a good outcome at ratification but they were amazed at the overwhelming support.

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