Surveys, Questionnaires, Comments and Other Feedback
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Poll Question 1 -
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Eaton County is presently considering limiting or discontinuing health care benefits payable to some county employees after they retire in the future. This action is being considered because it presently appears that the expected liabilities or required payments to county employees for future health care claims after they retire will exceed the money the county will have to pay those claims at that point in the future.
The projected inability to pay future retiree health care claims is projected by an actuarial study the county paid for last year. The county maintains a self insured plan to pay health care claims of all employees. Presently the county pays for health care claims by present employees and retired employees out of moneys collected from taxpayers each year.
There is no insurer responsible to pay these health care claims at any time in the future. If the money is not available at any future time to pay these anticipated health care claims of retirees, then the county will either have to default on payment of health care claims of those retirees, redirect money in the county budget from other programs and projects at that time in the future to pay those health care claims, or raise taxes to fund the claims which exceed the money the county has on hand to pay those anticipated health care claims.
The projected unfunded liability to pay health care benefits for all retirees may
be in excess of $100 million at some point 15 or 20 years in the future. Changes
to laws relating to accounting treatment of this unfunded liability now make it necessary
for Eaton county to note this unfunded liability on county accounting records and
balance sheets. The existence of the unfunded anticipated future health care costs
liability could possibly increase the interest rates the county must pay on bonds
or borrowing in the future -
Although the exact nature of the unfunded liability is not known, the potential for
significant financial stress in the future resulting from that liability is real.
We are all aware of recent defaults by the US Postal Service on required contributions
to fund similar retiree health care costs. One result of of the funding problems
experienced by the US Postal Service may be discontinuing services to citizens -
The crisis here in Eaton county is not anticipated to cause financial problems immediately. but may occur at some future point (several years) down the road. To get more background on this issue, you can review the materials posted on the Retiree Health Benefit page of this site under the County Programs and Issues web site tab… Or you can listen to the 15 minute video below in which I discuss the future retiree health insurance issues in a bit more detail …
What would YOU recommend that the Eaton County Board of Commissioners Do Now?
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