2023 - 2026 WCE Memorandum of Understanding: Article 18: Health and Welfare Benefits for Active Employees
What’s on this Page:
- 18.1 Active Employee Health Plans
- 18.2 Enrollment in County offered Health (Medical, Dental, Vision, Life Insurance) Plans
- 18.2.1 County Offered Medical Plan(s)
- 18.2.2 County Contribution toward Active Employee Medical Benefits
- 18.2.3 Dental Benefits
- 18.2.4 Vision Benefits
- 18.2.5 Life Insurance
- 18.2.6 Part-Time Employees – Health Benefits
- 18.2.7 Health Reimbursement Arrangement (HRA) Contribution
- 18.3 Employee Assistance Program
- 18.4 Long-Term Disability
- 18.4.1 Long-Term Disability - Claims Dispute
- 18.5 Workers’ Compensation Claims Dispute
- 18.5.1 Workers’ Compensation Temporary Disability – Supplementing With Paid Leave
- 18.6 Health Benefits During Leaves of Absence - Non-Medical Leaves Without Pay
- 18.7 Medical / Pregnancy Disability Leave
- 18.8 Continuation of Health Benefits Coverage
- 18.9 Part-Time Employees-Health Benefits During Leave of Absence
- 18.10 COBRA
- 18.11 Salary Enhancement Plans
- 18.12 Plan Documents and Other Controlling Documents
- 18.13 Labor Management Meetings – Health Benefits
- 18.14 Layoff – Medical Severance Coverage
- 18.15 Affordable Care Act Reopener
18.1 Active Employee Health Plans
An eligible employee is:
- A County of Sonoma probationary or regular full-time or probationary or regular part-time employee (Refer to Section 18.2.7 (Part-Time Employees – Health Benefits) regarding plans offered and pro-ration of benefits for part-time employees).
- Eligible dependents are (as defined in each plan document/summary plan description):
- Either the employee’s spouse or registered domestic partner if the employee has a Declaration of Domestic Partnership filed with the State of California, Secretary of State, as defined in California Family Code Section 297 et.seq; or
- A child up to age 26 or a disabled dependent child regardless of age.
An eligible employee is allowed only to enroll either as a single subscriber in a County offered medical, dental, vision plan, and/or dependent life insurance, or as the dependent spouse/domestic partner of another eligible County employee/retiree, but not both.
If an employee is also eligible to cover his/her dependent child/children, each child will be allowed to enroll as a dependent on only one employee or retiree’s plan (i.e., an employee and his or her dependents cannot be covered by more than one County offered health plan).
18.2 Enrollment in County Offered Health (Medical, Dental, Vision, Life Insurance) Plans
Election to enroll in a County offered health plan is required within the first 31 days following date of hire to a permanently allocated position of .40 FTE or greater, or it will be made during an annual enrollment period. Enrollment in vision and basic life insurance is automatic. Mid-year enrollment can only be permitted as allowed by IRS Section 125 or as required by HIPAA or other applicable regulations.
The effective date of benefits will be the first of the month following date of hire or initial eligibility.
Health plan coverage is paid on a semi-monthly basis (24 payments per year).
18.2.1 County Offered Medical Plan(s)
The County will offer at least three medical plans, the County Health Plan PPO, County Health Plan EPO, and Kaiser HMO Plan. The benefit provisions, co-payments, and deductibles of each plan are outlined in the Summary Plan Description or Evidence of Coverage.
Effective June 1, 2024, the County will offer at least Kaiser HMO ($10.00 co-pay) plan and one other HMO plan. The County Health Plan PPO and EPO will be closed to new enrollment. Employees enrolled in the County Health Plan as of May 31, 2024, will be allowed to remain in the plan.
Specific reference to a vendor does not obligate the County to continue to offer a medical plan offered by a specific vendor. The County may change health insurance carrier(s) and/or network provider(s), provided the plan design(s) are substantially equivalent.
18.2.2 County Contribution toward Active Employee Medical Benefits
Effective July 11, 2023, The County shall contribute up to maximum of the following amounts based on level of coverage for employees enrolled in County-offered medical coverage for any eligible full-time regular employee and their eligible dependent(s).
Employee only $ 851 per month ($425.50 semi-monthly)
Employee plus one $ 1,701 per month ($850.50 semi-monthly)
Family $ 2,405 per month ($1,202.50 semi-monthly)
County Contribution - Plan Year 2024-2025
Effective the pay period beginning May 14, 2024, the County shall contribute up to maximum of the following amounts based on level of coverage for employees enrolled in County-offered medical coverage for any eligible full-time regular employee and their eligible dependent(s).
Employee only $893 per month ($446.50 semi-monthly)
Employee plus one $1,786 per month ($893 semi-monthly)
Family $2,525 per month ($1,262.50 semi-monthly)
County Contribution – Plan Year 2025-2026
Effective the pay period beginning May 13, 2025, the County shall contribute up to maximum of the following amounts based on level of coverage for employees enrolled in County-offered medical coverage for any eligible full-time regular employee and their eligible dependent(s).
Employee only $938 per month ($469 semi-monthly)
Employee plus one $1876 per month ($938 semi-monthly)
Family $2652 per month ($1,326 semi-monthly)
This is the full and total contribution amount the County will contribute toward medical benefits for active regular employees and their dependent(s).
The County shall contribute to part-time eligible employees on a pro-rated basis, in accordance with Section 18.2.6 (Part-Time Employees – Health Benefits).
18.2.3 Dental Benefits
The County offers dental and orthodontic benefits to full- and part-time regular employees and their eligible dependent(s). Benefits, provisions, co-payments, and deductibles are outlined in the Evidence of Coverage.
The employee contribution is $25.00 semi-monthly ($50.00 per month).
Effective the pay period beginning October 23, 2018, for the pay date of November 14, 2018, the employee contribution shall be suspended for a total of fourteen (14) months, resuming January 8, 2020. The County shall contribute to part-time eligible employees on a pro-rated basis, in accordance with Section 18.2.6 (Part-Time Employees – Health Benefits).
18.2.4 Vision Benefits
The County provides vision benefits to full-time active employees and their eligible dependent(s) and offers computer vision care benefits to full-time active employees, with no employee contribution.
Part-time employees are automatically enrolled in the vision benefit and the County shall contribute to part-time eligible employees on a pro-rated basis, in accordance with Section 18.2.6 (Part-Time Employees - Health Benefits).
18.2.5 Life Insurance
The County shall offer a basic term-life insurance plan in the amount equal to one (1) times the employee's annual base salary. Enrollment in basic life insurance is automatic, based on eligibility.
Each eligible and enrolled employee may purchase, through payroll deduction, dependent coverage of $5,000 for each eligible dependent. Benefit provisions are outlined in the Schedule of Insurance or Group Insurance Policy.
Eligible employees may purchase additional life insurance for themselves at their own expense upon initial eligibility or during the annual open enrollment period specified in Section 18.2 (Enrollment in County Offered Health (Medical, Dental, Vision, Life Insurance) Plans). Employees may purchase supplemental coverage in increments one times (1X) to four times (4X) their annual base salary to a maximum of $500,000 (basic + supplemental), in accordance with the insurance carrier’s policy. Participating employees and the County will be required to follow the insurance company’s contracted requirements with respect to maximum amounts and the necessity for evidence of insurability in order to be eligible to receive the benefit as may be amended from time to time and may be based on actual participation by County employees in the program. An employee enrolled in supplemental coverage who moves from one age bracket to the next higher bracket will have to pay the rate of the higher age bracket beginning the January of the year the employee moves to the higher age bracket.
18.2.6 Part-Time Employees – Health Benefits
Part-time employees in allocated positions of thirty-two (32) hours or more biweekly (0.40 FTE minimum) shall be eligible to participate in the County’s medical, dental, and vision plans and the County’s contribution toward their premiums shall be pro- rated. Pro-ration shall be based on the number of paid status hours in the pay period, excluding overtime and including periods of qualified FMLA and CFRA leaves without pay.
Except for part-time (0.75 FTE+) employees referred to in Section 18.2.6, part-time employees shall not be eligible to participate in the County’s life insurance program.
18.2.7 Health Reimbursement Arrangement (HRA) Contribution
Effective the pay period beginning on July 19, 2016, the County shall cease contributions to the HRA accounts described in this Section.
County contributions pursuant to this Article will be available to Plan participants for reimbursement of eligible medical care expenses as incurred by an eligible employee or dependent(s) as defined under Internal Revenue Code Sections 105 and 106.
HRA contributions made pursuant to this Article are separate and apart from HRA contributions and benefit eligibility criteria for Retiree Medical for employees hired on or after January 1, 2009, pursuant to Section 19.3.
The County of Sonoma Health Reimbursement Arrangement (HRA) Plan Document will be amended to reflect the above HRA contribution and benefit eligibility criteria for active employees.
The County makes no representations or warranties in regard to the tax treatment of the HRA, including whether any portion of the HRA is taxable by the Internal Revenue Service or the Franchise Tax Board.
18.3 Employee Assistance Program
The County provides an Employee Assistance Program for all employees represented under this MOU for the term of this Memorandum at no cost to the employee.
18.4 Long-Term Disability
The County shall provide and pay the premium for a Long-Term Disability (LTD) benefit as described in the applicable Policy Certificate to all full- and part-time employees (0.4 FTE minimum) who meet the eligibility requirements.
The benefit waiting period is the longer of 60 days, or the period an employee elects to receive paid leave. Employees eligible to receive LTD benefits are not required to exhaust sick leave before receiving LTD benefits, but an employee who chooses to use sick leave or other paid leave after the 60th day of disability is not eligible to receive any LTD benefits until the employee stops using paid leave. LTD benefits cannot be supplemented with any paid leave. LTD benefits will be offset by any applicable income, such as, short-term disability benefits, retirement benefits, Social Security and Social Security Disability benefits, etc. Enrollment in the Long-Term Disability benefit is automatic.
18.4.1 Long-Term Disability - Claims Dispute
The claims dispute process is described in the Policy Certificate. The County Human Resource - Risk Management Division will assist employees with claims dispute processing.
18.5 Workers' Compensation Claims Dispute
Any dispute by an employee over a claim processed through workers’ compensation shall be resolved solely through the appropriate appeal procedures of that system and may not be the subject of a grievance through this Memorandum.
18.5.1 Workers’ Compensation Temporary Disability – Supplementing with Paid Leave
An employee not entitled to the benefits of Labor Code Section 4850 who is absent from work by reasons of industrial injury compensable by temporary disability, shall supplement such compensation with enough paid leaves to increase his/her gross earnings to equal his/her regular biweekly base salary as follows:
- All sick leave shall be taken until the remaining sick leave balance is forty (40) hours or less.
- Once the sick leave balance is forty (40) hours or less, the employee may elect to supplement by taking any combination of the remaining sick leave, vacation, and or compensatory time off up to his/her base salary.
- Employees whose sick leave balance is forty (40) hours or less may also elect not to supplement at all.
An employee shall accrue vacation leave and sick leave only during such portion of absence from work due to industrial injury for which the employee uses previously earned vacation leave, sick leave, or compensatory time off.
18.6 Health Benefits During Leaves of Absence - Non-Medical Leaves Without Pay
If an employee is on an unpaid absence or goes on leave without pay, either of which reduces the employee's time in pay status to less than fifty percent (50%) of the employee's FTE in a pay period, the County will cease to pay its normal benefit contributions. The employee must pay the total benefit premiums if the employee desires to continue any coverage. If an employee is on an unpaid absence or goes on leave without pay, either of which reduces the employee's time in pay status to no less than fifty percent (50%) of the employee's FTE in a pay period, the County will continue to pay its normal benefit contributions.
18.7 Medical / Pregnancy Disability Leave
When an employee exhausts all but forty (40) hours of sick leave and goes on medical or pregnancy disability leave without pay, the County will make its normal contribution to the employee's medical, dental, vision care, life insurance and LTD benefits for a period not to exceed thirteen (13) pay periods per disability. Beginning with the fourteenth (14th) pay period, the employee will be entitled to continued coverage through COBRA Continuation of Coverage and is responsible for making a timely election and paying the COBRA premiums by the due date. Prior to the exhaustion of the thirteen (13) pay periods the County will provide reasonable notice of the employee's obligations regarding the opportunity to continue employee-paid benefits.
An employee who returns to work from medical or pregnancy disability leave without pay prior to the exhaustion of the thirteen (13) pay periods of entitlement under this Article shall not have the 13 pay period entitlement reduced for any pay period in which the employee is in paid status for at least fifty percent (50%) of the employee’s allocated full-time equivalent as specified in this Section 18.7 (Medical / Pregnancy Disability Leave).
If the employee returns to medical or pregnancy disability leave without pay for the same condition, the thirteen (13) pay period time frame will continue where it left off and will be reduced only for those pay periods when the employee’s paid status hours fall below fifty percent (50%) of the allocated full-time equivalent. The County’s thirteen (13) pay period leave without pay benefit entitlement shall run concurrent with FMLA/CFRA/CPDL.
The employee's entitlement under COBRA law begins when the employee is no longer eligible for a County contribution toward medical benefits. When the employee returns to fifty percent (50%) or greater of the employee’s allocated full time equivalent in pay status, eligibility for a County contribution toward health benefits is regained. Benefit coverage begins the first of the following month once a completed and signed Employee Benefits Enrollment/Change form is received by the Human Resources Benefits Unit within 31-days of the return from leave.
18.8 Continuation of Health Benefits Coverage
An employee who is entitled to continued benefit coverage as specified in Section 18.6 (Health Benefits During Leaves of Absence - Non-Medical Leaves Without Pay) and Section 18.7 (Medical/ Pregnancy Disability Leave) above, must notify the ACTTC no later than five (5) County business days after the first day of the leave of absence, of the employee's intent to continue insurance coverage. A request for Leave of Absence form signed by the employee and his/her appointing authority shall be forwarded to the ACTTC’s office when leave is authorized.
To assure continued insurance coverage, premiums shall be paid by the employee to the ACTTC’s Office no later than the last day of the pay period or the date specified in the notice. If an employee does not qualify for continued health benefits under Section 18.6 (Family Care and Medical Leave Under FMLA and CFRA) or Section 18.6.1 (Medical or Pregnancy Disability Leave) beginning with the first day of the seventh month, the employee will be entitled to continued health coverage through COBRA Continuation of Coverage and is responsible for making a timely election and paying the COBRA premiums by the due date.
18.9 Part-Time Employees - Health Benefits During Leave of Absence
Part-time employees shall be eligible to participate in the medical benefit plans and/or the dental plans on a prorated basis, as defined in Section 18.26 (Part-Time Employees - Health Benefits). For pay periods with no pay status hours, pro-ration shall be based on the employee’s FTE.
The County provides continuation of health benefits at group rates plus two percent (2%) as allowed by the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) of 1986, including any applicable subsequent amendments or revisions where applicable.
18.11 Salary Enhancement Plans
IRS Section 414(h)(2)
All employees who belong to the Sonoma County Employee's Retirement Association shall have their wages adjusted according to Section 414(h)(2) of the Internal Revenue Code, which has the effect of deferring Federal and State income taxes on the employee's retirement contributions.
IRS Section 125:
The County shall continue, under IRS Code Section 125, to administer a Health Care Premium Conversion Plan that allows eligible employees to make their required contributions towards health premiums with pre-tax dollars through payroll deduction. The County will make no contribution to this plan, however, it will bear the cost of administering this benefit.
Health Flexible Spending Account
The County provides a Health Flexible Spending Account (FSA) to enable eligible employees to set aside pre-tax dollars for reimbursement of employee's qualified medical expenses not reimbursed by the employee's health insurance plan and will be allowed to the maximum amount stipulated in the Plan and consistent with law.
Dependent Care Assistance Program
The County provides a Dependent Care Assistance Program subject to the limitations and maximums as stipulated under law.
All of the above plans will be administered by the County in accordance with applicable Federal and State laws as amended and, as such, will not be grievable or arbitrable.
18.12 Plan Documents and Other Controlling Documents
While mention may be made in this Memorandum of various provisions of benefit programs, specific details of benefits (including disputes and/or appeals) provided under County offered health plans, shall be governed solely by the various plan documents or insurance contracts and/or policies maintained by the County. The County will bear no responsibility for resolving disputes/appeals between an employee and a contracted health plan vendor. Within this Section, vendor refers to insurance company, Knox-Keene organizations licensed in the State of California to provide health benefits, benefits administration, or network management.
18.13 Labor Management Meetings – Health Benefits
Through the term of this Memorandum, upon request, the County and representatives of the Council, not to exceed four (4) in number, shall meet quarterly at mutually agreed upon times at the County to discuss informational matters of mutual concern relating to the County Health Plan and other health benefit related benefits. More frequent meetings may be held upon mutual agreement. If a meeting occurs during an employee council representative’s regular work schedule, the employee can attend without loss of regular pay and benefits. Items and information to be discussed at each meeting shall be subject to advance mutual agreement. The parties acknowledge that these meetings and this provision shall not be subject to Article 33 (Grievance Procedure), to meet and confer requirements of the County Employee Relations Policy and Section 3505 of the Government Code.
18.14 Layoff – Medical Severance Coverage
For employees who continue to be laid off from County service, the County will make its usual medical insurance contribution for the first six (6) pay periods following layoff and one half (1/2) its normal contribution for the next six (6) pay periods following layoff. Eligible employees will be offered the opportunity to continue coverage through COBRA. If/when this medical severance is offered concurrently with COBRA continuation coverage, the eighteen (18) month COBRA continuation period shall be extended by each month of medical severance coverage to a maximum of twenty-four (24) total months.
18.15 Affordable Care Act Reopener
Upon request from the County, the parties will reopen Article 18, entitled “Health and Welfare Benefits for Active Employees” during the term of the agreement to address and any impacts on the obligation under Article 18 caused by the Affordable Care Act (ACA).