Health insurance for one of the state’s largest employers could change under proposed legislation that will likely be considered when the Legislature convenes next year.
An independent firm evaluating the state’s system of providing health insurance said the state doesn’t take advantage of cost savings that could come from a more competitive system. The report, adopted by the State Employee Health Insurance Review Working Group on Tuesday, also recommends combining the Employees Benefit Council and the Oklahoma State Education and Employees Group Insurance Board.
EBC employs 36 and OSEEGIB employs 160. Top legislative leaders are supporting this plan which they hope would cut down on the cost of insuring the state’s employees. Last year it cost nearly $1 billion to ensure the state’s employees and their families, said Sen. Bill Brown, co-chairman of the working group.
State employees may not get the best pay, but the benefits package is pretty hard to beat. Employees get a set amount and are then allowed to chose their own health care plan from a list of providers who have agreements with the state. Whatever is leftover in the benefits allowance can be pocketed.
While legislative leaders want to increase competition in hopes of getting a more competitive rate, it could impact a state worker’s pocket book. Changes could be made in the benefit allowance, which is based on the average of all premiums available to workers. State employees are required to enroll in health insurance. But educators, who are also technically state employees, can opt out of coverage and take the allowance to – in theory – purchase health care elsewhere.
The report showed that many people are choosing not to get coverage, that in turn makes the risk to insure state employees higher and drives up the premium, according to the report by Milliman Inc.
It’s a complicated issue that isn’t easily explained to the general public. But in a year when state agencies are forced to cut services because of revenue shortfall’s lawmakers are looking at all ways to save money.
Check out the full report: http://www.oksenate.gov/publications/issue_papers/state_govt/ok_sehir_final_report_2009.pdf