CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Next year’s proposed health insurance plan for state workers will include no premium increases for a third year in a row.
The state Public Employees Agency Finance Board decided Thursday to float a plan before state workers that keeps premiums the same for most.
PEIA Executive Director Ted Cheatham said there are a lot of moving parts that’s enabling premiums to stay the same. One of those is the decision to use PEIA’s reserve fund for two years. Cheatham said the fund is now just below $200 million. He said it won’t take long for that to disappear.
“We are slowly spending down the reserve, which people have said to do to stabilize these rates for a few years, eventually we’re going to run out of reserves to spend. We’re going to need some more money or benefit reductions,” he said.
PEIA is projecting double-digit premium increases in budget years 2016 and 2017.
PEIA will take its plan out to six public hearings across the state next month. The board will take a final vote in Dec. with terms of the plan kicking in next July.
The proposed plan does take away the “Improve Your Score” discount, which cut premiums by $10 a month for workers who got their blood pressure, cholesterol, glucose and weight circumference measured at workplace wellness sites. Cheatham said the workers who were part of the program will still get the cheaper premium and premiums will go down $10 a month for those who were not part of it. He said PEIA will encourage state workers to visit doctors to get those medical numbers.
“There are not enough people in West Virginia, PEIA-covered, that have a relationship with a doctor. That’s really what we’re looking to do,” Cheatham said. “That’s the way health care is going—a comprehensive medical home. Let’s let the doctor’s office run the blood work. Let’s let the doctor’s office help to solve the issues after the fact.”
Cheatham said there was also one glitch that helped PEIA’s spending in 2012—the derecho.
“That’s worth six million dollars in savings, believe it or not, over all the previous years on that same week,” Cheatham said. “We think that’s because doctors’ offices were closed, people were without power trying to fix things in their houses and just didn’t get to the doctor that week.”
PEIA has also benefited from a change in its drug plan that has increased fill rates for generic drugs to nearly 85 percent.
The new PEIA plan year begins July 1, 2014.