Medical insurance costs could lead to PUD budget changes

The Grays Harbor PUD could see some budget changes in coming months as utility officials try to cover the growing cost of medical coverage without increasing utility rates.

PUD employees are covered by Premera Blue Cross and starting April 1, the cost of insuring everyone will increase by about 14 percent — about $400,000, said Chief Financial Officer Doug Streeter. He attributed the cost increases to the changing insurance market and the Affordable Care Act.

“We’re hoping to make some changes to the policy and get that down to a 10 percent increase,” Streeter said.

If PUD officials are unable to mitigate the costs by tweaking the 2014 budget, utility rates could increase by about 0.4 percent, Streeter said. But both he and Manager Dave Ward said they’ll do everything possible to avoid that scenario.

The increase in insurance costs weren’t included in the 2014 budget, which was finalized last December, because the insurance company only recently notified the PUD of the changes, Ward said. Utility officials had been operating under the assumption that the costs would stay the same this year.

“You use the best information you have to make your decision, and that’s what we did,” Ward said.

A proposal regarding the budget changes will go before the PUD commissioners in a few months, Ward said.


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