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June 9, 2011

Maragos: New County Incentive Could Save $1.26 Million in Health Insurance Costs

Special Forum to Answer Questions Set for June 21st

Nassau County Comptroller George Maragos announced an incentive program that offers to “buy back” excess health insurance coverage plans from retirees and save the County up to $1.26 million annually. The “Smart Savings” Program is being offered to retirees who retired prior to its implementation in 2007. The incentive is to offer $2,000 per year to retired County employees who currently have dual family health insurance coverage. The Comptroller and his staff will be available to answer questions concerning this program on June 21st from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Ceremonial Chambers at the Theodore Roosevelt Executive and Legislative Building.

“The County is unnecessarily paying for two family health insurance plans for one family,” Comptroller Maragos said. “Retirees who choose to participate will not have their health insurance benefit levels affected in any way and they will be helping their neighbors, former co-workers, themselves and all taxpayers. The Smart Savings Program is mandated for current employees and retirees who retired on or after certain dates. We are now seeking to include all retirees into the Program.”

County Executive Edward P. Mangano stated, “This is another common-sense solution aimed at protecting Nassau taxpayers and retirees. During these tough economic times, it is important that government do all it can to rein in spending and stop the waste of tax dollars.”
The County has identified 159 retired couples who would be eligible to participate. If 75% of the eligible retirees take advantage of this incentive, the County could save $1.26 million annually based on 2011 premium rates. Early estimates have the premium rate for 2012 increasing by 13.7% which would further increase the savings for the County.

The County’s Smart Savings Program started in January 2007 when legislation was enacted to end the practice of providing dual health insurance coverage to ordinance employees who are married to or partnered with another County employee or retiree. The Program was later expanded to include union employees. In Smart Savings, one spouse or partner is the primary policy holder for the health benefits coverage and the other spouse or partner is a dependent. The dependent spouse or partner receives an annual buyback check in the amount of $2,000. The County further reimburses the family for additional out of pocket expenses that exceed the annual $2,000 buy back amount if the expenses would have been covered by the insurance policy that was surrendered.

Comptroller George Maragos concluded, “this Program allows the County to save money without affecting the benefit levels of our retirees.”