Health insurance overhaul coming?

PSE is committed to finding affordable insurance for all school employees, especially the classified employees we represent and their families.  With that goal in mind, we have worked with Senators Steve Hobbs, Ann Rivers, Mark Mullet, Guy Palumbo, Dean Takko, and Karen Keiser to introduce two bills, SB 5726 and SB 5727.  Big picture view of the two bills is that 5726 is significant change with substantial cost ($200 million per year) to the state and employers and $21 million less for employees, 5727 is smaller in its reach and comes at no cost to employers but with cost shifting for employees.  First, I’ll explain the easy bill.

5727 requires that K 12 insurance premiums be structured so that an employee who has full family insurance will pay $5  for every $1 that an employee with single only coverage in the 2018-19 school year, $4 for every $1 in the 2019-20 school year, and $3 for every $1 in the 2020-21 school year.  To make this happen, insurance pooling dollars must first be used to maintain the appropriate ratio.

On the other hand, 5726 requires much more explanation.  5726 would move all K 12 employees into the PEBB insurance plans. This dramatic change to the insurance options available to school employees has numerous benefits:

….”insurance parity 1″ – K 12 employees would receive the same state funded levels as state employees.  Currently, full time K 12 employees receive $780 per month.  Based upon current funding for state and higher education employees, we would see an increase to $888 per month.

….”insurance parity 2″ – half time employees (employees working 630 hours or more per year) would be treated the same as state employees.  Currently, half time or more K 12 employees receive pro-rated insurance funding.  As a result of this bill, they would receive full funding.

….”balanced out of pocket costs” – the PEBB insurance plans are developed to ensure that employees with family coverage pays no more than three times what a single employee pays.

….collective bargaining for insurance, with a couple exceptions, would occur at the state level.  Instead of negotiating insurance plans, employer funding and insurance pooling at your school district, these negotiations would take place at the state level just like state and higher education employees.  Imagine the bargaining strength when all of us, K 12, state and higher education employees join together to negotiate for insurance funding and payments.  What are the couple of exceptions that we can continue to negotiate?  We would still be able to negotiate enhancements to the PEBB provided dental, vision, group life and group long term disability plans, as well as miscellaneous insurance plans like cancer insurance, etc.

….plan year would be on a calendar year basis rather than school year.  Each January, our new insurance plans would start.

….the move into PEBB will be implemented in school districts on a schedule determined by the Health Care Authority over a three year period starting January 2019.

….employees or employers no longer have to pay the retiree carveout (currently $64.39 per month per 1440 FTE) once they move into the PEBB system.

What’s important to note about the PEBB insurance plan is that 3,000 current K 12 employees and 4,000 of their dependents are on it.  PSE’s higher education employees and PSE’s staff is on PEBB.  Additionally, 36,000 K 12 retirees are on PEBB.

And even more important, if this bill passes, 9,000 school employees (mostly classified employees) and 30,000 of their dependents (mostly classified employee dependents) will be able to have insurance again.

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