By Tony Lopez

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — CBS13 has learned thousands of public employees in Northern California are paying inflated prices for health care coverage, based on a bizarre CalPERS mapping system.

A public employee who lives in Sacramento could see their health care coverage cost jump as high as 15 percent just by moving a few miles to West Sacramento.

That’s because San Joaquin, Amador, Nevada, Sutter, Yuba and Yolo counties—some more than 100 miles away from San Francisco—are all designated by the agency that handles state worker benefits as being in its Bay Area Region.

That means police officers, firefighters, city and county workers—any of the more than 28,000 employees in those counties are paying Bay Area prices for health care services.

How much more? One Woodland firefighter says he pays $200 more a month in Yolo County than a co-worker who lives just 20 miles away in Sacramento.

Yolo County Supervisor Matt Rexroad says the fix will have thousands of public employees hundreds of dollars a month.

“We want to draw their attention to this, and hopefully they’ll fix it,” he said. “[Employees] should see their rates adjusted more to reflect the reality that they’re part of the Sacramento region, and not San Francisco and Oakland.”

CalPERS issued this statement on the matter: “Since 2005, CALPERS has grouped counties into regions because health care costs vary among counties. Counties with similar health care costs are grouped into regions, taking into account historic cost variation, enrollment, coverage areas and geography.”

After that wordy response, the agency then told CBS13 it is strongly considering changing its policy.

In fact, on April 15—tax day, appropriately enough—CalPERS will hold a hearing to consider moving the six counties into what it will call The Northern Region.

But that will also include the Bay Area, meaning costs may not drop.

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