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PEBB lowers health premiums for many state employees in 2013

Post by Brad Shannon / The Olympian on July 25, 2012 at 6:36 pm |
July 26, 2012 12:37 pm

The Public Employees’ Benefits Board voted Wednesday to set health-premium rates for 338,000 state workers, dependents and retirees in 2013. In a bit of a surprise, rates are going down for participants in the most popular plan, Uniform Medical.

Details are scheduled to be posted Thursday morning here on the state Health Care Authority’s site. Update: The complete chart is here.

In the meantime, the Washington Federation of State Employees put out an alert to members that hailed lower costs for Uniform Medical Plan enrollees but objected to rates going up for Group Health and some Kaiser Permanente plans.

It says:

Good news for Uniform Medical Plan enrollees: No increases to co-pays or deductibles and decreases in premium amounts. About 60 percent of state employees are in the UMP. But not the same for Group Health and parts of the Kaiser plan.
At today’s (July 25) board meeting, Federation Executive Director Greg Devereux once again joined a minority in voting against the increase slated for Group Health and parts of the Kaiser plan.
“It seems to me they (Group Health and Kaiser) could be more competitive by not making those changes,” Devereux said. “They do have access to reserves. They could absorb those costs.”

But the Health Care Authority, which manages the PEBB programs, put out a news release that paints the outcome this way:

Public Employees Benefits Board approves premiums and benefits for state employees, retirees in 2013
OLYMPIA – The state’s Public Employees Benefits Board (PEB Board) voted Wednesday to approve premiums and cost-sharing changes that will affect 338,000 state employees, retirees, and their dependents effective January 1, 2013.
For state and higher-education employees, the good news is that:
Three of the seven medical plans—including the state’s Uniform Medical Plan Classic and UMP Consumer Directed Health Plan (CDHP)—will see decreases in the monthly premiums paid by employees next year.
Kaiser Permanente’s CDHP employee premiums will also decrease next year.
There will also be no benefit or cost-sharing changes (such as deductibles, out-of-pocket maximums, copays, and coinsurance) to these plans in 2013.
Life and long-term disability insurance premiums will stay the same for 2013.
State and higher-education employees will continue to pay an average of 15 percent of the plans’ premiums in 2013, with the state paying 85 percent.
Other PEBB medical plans will also have few cost-sharing changes for 2013—Group Health’s Classic and Value plans will increase the emergency room copay by $100, and Kaiser Permanente’s Classic plan will increase its annual deductible by $100 and its out-of-pocket maximum by $500. These changes impact both employees and retirees not enrolled in Medicare.
The PEBB Program will continue to offer the consumer-directed health plans, or CDHPs, through Group Health, Kaiser Permanente, and Uniform Medical Plan next year. These plans are tied to a health savings account (HSA) to pay for members’ qualified out-of-pocket costs. The state will continue to contribute $700 annually for a subscriber’s HSA or $1,400 annually for a family’s (subscriber plus one or more family members) HSA in 2013.
Both Medicare and non-Medicare retirees’ medical premiums will increase for 2013, while the state’s contribution for Medicare retirees’ premiums will hold steady at the lesser of $150 or 50 percent of the monthly premium. There are no benefit or cost-sharing changes for PEBB’s Medicare plans in 2013.
(Note: The PEB Board does not vote on benefit changes for Medicare Supplement Plan F, which is regulated by federal rules. The federal government will release any 2013 changes to Plan F in October.) Retirees’ dental premiums will increase slightly for Uniform Dental Plan, remain the same for DeltaCare, and decrease for Willamette Dental Group. The retiree term life insurance premium will also stay at $6.57 per month in 2013.
The rates are based upon competitive bids received by PEBB and the funds it has available from the Legislature.
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