Pima County to self insure

Pima County will drop its health insurance carrier next year in favor of self insurance.

"We will be able to control our costs because we control the plan," says M., Allyn Bulzomi, the human resources director for the county.

The county has been leading up to this for years by encouraging its 7,500 employees to get fit.

The county offers incentives for people who exercise, lose weight, don't smoke and eat right.

An employee gets $5 off of their insurance premium each paycheck for meeting certain metrics, up to $20 per pay period.

"It's good to give incentives to get people moving and active," says county employee Gary Campbell. "There's a number of us in a walking club."

"It really helps you cope with work stress," says Patricia Moreno, who also participates in the Wellness Program.

"It's a significant savings not only to the employees out of their pockets but to the taxpayers," says Bulzomi.

Which is the bottom line.

Last year the county saw a 14% increase in premiums and that tipped the scales.

"We're trying to stabilize costs," he says.

The hope is the first year to keep increase at "zero to 5%."

Pima County is kind of late to the game, most other counties have already adopted a self insurance program. But the county signed a five year deal with its insurer at a goof price so hasn't seen the need to change. That deal has expired so now might be the best time.

"That's what we're hoping to do," says Bulzomi. "We won't see double digit increases anymore."