The Public Employees Insurance Agency approved a plan for the coming fiscal year that holds premiums steady, but the agency is also looking ahead to the possibility of increased costs for the following year.
The coming year’s plan was approved Thursday afternoon by the PEIA Finance Board, following a series of public hearings around the state.
Growing out-of-pocket costs were a major factor in a statewide teachers strike two years ago. But the plan has been stable since then.
Dale Lee, president of the West Virginia Education Association, praised finance board members for their cooperation and communication. “I want to thank you for your diligence,” Lee said Thursday afternoon.
But Lee asked board members to continue their attentiveness to upcoming financial pressures.
A long-term financial chart distributed to the PEIA Finance Board earlier this year anticipates a 7.5 percent increase in costs in 2023, a 7.9 percent cost increase in 2024 and 8.2 percent in 2025.
PEIA’s finances have been relatively stable the past couple of years. And the agency still has a reserve of $105 million established by the governor and the Legislature.
“It’s important that all of us get together to advocate to the Legislature that a long-term solution for PEIA actually come to existence,” Lee told PEIA board members.
“We know it can’t be one-sided. It can’t be the state bearing the brunt. Everyone has to have some skin in the game. We’re going to ask you as a finance board to advocate with us to the Legislature.”
Allan McVey, the state’s administration secretary, responded that actuaries for PEIA try to make helpful information available about the health insurance plan’s finances. That can be used to provide options for the Governor’s Office and the Legislature.
“We’ll tell you we do appreciate your membership and all of state government employees, and we try to do our best to get he best information we can,” McVey said. “If you will work with us, you should know that we will work with you.”
Each fall, PEIA has public hearings via teleconference and at locations around the state.
On Thursday, the board voted to add a public hearing next year in Wheeling because the plan seems likely to change and there would be increased public interest.
“It is anticipated we will have changes of some sort next year,” said PEIA Director Ted Cheatham. “We will need some additional funding to keep the plan the way it is.”