Health insurance is not considered compensation for elected officials and is not subject to the state constitution's limitations on increasing salaries of elected officials. Below is additional information from the Elected Officials section of our Health Insurance Benefits page:
By the state constitution the salary of local elected officials may not be increased after their election or during the officer’s term of office (Art. XI, section 8). Adding medical insurance coverage to elected officials after their election, one might think, would violate this constitutional prohibition, but it does not. RCW 41.04.190 provides that:The cost of a [health insurance] policy or plan to a public agency or body is not additional compensation to the employees or elected officials covered thereby.
Most health benefits for elected officials are adopted informally by a motion but they can also be adopted by resolution. See the example below.
- Lynden Resolution No. 995 (2019) – Authorizes the mayor and councilmembers to enroll in a health insurance plan currently offered to qualified city employees
A stipend could also be given to an elected official instead of health insurance, but a stipend would be treated as extra compensation. Given the constitutional prohibition against additional compensation during a term of office, the stipend could not be given or accepted until the officer starts or is re-elected into a new term. While the provision of medical insurance to an elected official is not considered by statute to be additional compensation (RCW 41.04.190), there is no similar provision made for stipends.
See the policy example below:
- Vancouver Health Insurance Opt-Out Payment Policy (2018) – Allows councilmembers to receive payment in lieu of city health insurance; addresses the prohibition on mid-term adjustment of compensation of elected officials
For more information on the provision of health and other benefits to elected officials, see our blog post, Elected Officials and Benefits Programs.