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March 25, 2016

Budget Update - Health Insurance

Health insurance premium costs continue to increase every year with another increase expected for next year. We recommend that employees annually review and understand the health plan they are on, particularly the primary benefits, deductibles, and maximum out of pocket costs that could be incurred if a major health incident occurred. 

Over the past few years, many employees have transitioned from higher cost WEA plans 2, 3, and 5 into lower cost Easy Choice Plans. In most instances, the employee’s monthly out-of-pocket premium savings will outweigh the increased co-pay and deductible costs associated with a change to the Easy Choice Plans.

The district still has 297 employees enrolled in the two highest cost plans, WEA Plans 2 and 5. In many of our district bargaining groups, employees enrolled in Plans 2 or 5 are limited in the amount of excess insurance pooling dollars that can be applied to their out-of-pocket insurance premium costs.  This is a way to incentivize transitioning to a lower cost plan and freeing up more pooling dollars to be allocated over the entire employee group. 

The district has 240 employees enrolled in the state PEBB health plan.  We continue to evaluate possible savings to employee groups if enrolled in the state PEBB plan, as well as different approaches within the WEA plan that increase the availability of insurance pooling dollars to the entire employee group. 

The state monthly health insurance contribution for a full-time employee was $768 since 2010-11 until an increase to $780 this school year. We do not expect any increase in the allocation for next year. The legislature has been hesitant to increase the allocation until current K-12 health insurance plans and premium costs can be better managed. 

The majority of statewide school district employees are enrolled in WEA health insurance plans. The state has been collecting insurance enrollment data from school districts over the past three years.  This data will be used to evaluate whether establishing a state administered K-12 health insurance plan might provide lower cost insurance premiums.

To date, the legislature has no firm proposal to establish a K-12 health insurance plan.  It is expected the legislature will address issues with health insurance in the 2017-19 biennium budget.

Vic Roberts
Director of Business Operations

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