Senate panel considers state group health insurance plan and premiums

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State employees have not had an increase in their health insurance premiums in over 15 years, but that could change as a Senate panel begins to delve into the costs associated with the plan. state group health insurance.

Senator Jeff Brandès, chairman of the Senate Committee on Government Oversight and Accountability, asked the director of group insurance for the Division of State Ryan stokes if the state had contracted consultants who could make recommendations on how the state could reduce its health insurance costs and change the current premium structure to ‘incentivize’ state employees to enroll in high-deductible health insurance plans.

Comments from Brandes and other committee members followed. Stokes overview, which showed that the state paid 100% of the increases in health insurance costs and that employees did not bear any of the expenses.

The Stokes chart showed that the family premiums for health insurance coverage as of June 30, 2005 were $ 10,004. The employee’s contribution was $ 2,160 and the State of Florida contributed the remainder.

As of July 1, the annual family premium for the state’s group health insurance plan was $ 21,973, of which the employee is still responsible for $ 2,160.

“As health care costs rise over time, premiums must also rise,” Stokes said, explaining the chart to program committee members.

Brandes looked appalled at the information.

“So we haven’t increased employee bonuses in the last 15 years?” Brandes asked.

Member of the Senate Committee and Chief Budget Negotiator, Senator Kelli Stargel asked if the division compared the benefits and costs of the state’s group health insurance plan to other states and how the Florida plan rates. She also insisted on whether there was an analysis of the state’s group plan compared to other large Florida employers.

There have been studies in the past, Stokes said, but he told Stargel he couldn’t remember the results.

Brandes, however, offered an answer to the question.

“In my experience, the payouts for employees are extremely low,” Brandes said.

Florida state group health insurance is estimated to cost $ 2.8 billion last year. As of June 30, 362,290 people (175,046 state employees) were covered by the public health insurance scheme. About 47% of employees are enrolled in the preferred provider organization, or PPO plans, and 52% are enrolled in HMO plans.

The state group plan offers employees access to high deductible PPO and HMO plans. State data shows that as of June 30, only 3% of people covered by the plan are choosing plans with high deductibles.

“What kind of advertising do we do? Brandes said costs to the state are reduced when individuals sign up for high-deductible plans. “What do we do to advertise or explain to people who join the public plan not only their options, but also the benefits of joining a high deductible plan? “

The state pays the same amount of premiums whether the employee subscribes to the high-deductible plan or to a traditional plan. The difference in cost between the options is borne by the employee through higher or lower premiums.

Senator Gary Farmer requested that the division make an effort to collect salary information from government employees and have the information to include in presentations in the future.

“In making these decisions, the disposable income available to these employees is a factor,” Farmer said.


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