More questions about insurance 'fix' | Arkansas Blog

Sunday, June 29, 2014

More questions about insurance 'fix'

Posted By on Sun, Jun 29, 2014 at 7:53 AM

One problem with these agreed-on special legislative sessions is that thousands of people affected by the agreements don't know what they mean until it's too late. See the school health insurance proposal.

I think of that this morning in reading a special session advance story on Stephens Media  about the "fix" for school employees insurance. Sen. Jim Hendren, who's been leading the group that produced the agreed-on legislation — which will be approved without any of the customary discussion or input from the public at a legislative session — is pleased that the deal means only a 3 percent premium increase in school insurance.

Yes, but ….

Has anybody seen a fact sheet on the new deductibles and co-pays? If you add thousands of dollars a year in deductibles and co-pays for people who use the insurance, you've added punishing increases in cost, premium increase or no premium increase.

Moral on school employee insurance: Don't get sick.

Message for the 4,000 part-time school workers who'll lose insurance (unlike the part-time legislators who get to keep their richly funded taxpayer-provided Cadillac coverage): Better start now lobbying legislators like Hendren to re-authorize the private option expansion of Medicaid. Hendren himself has said that's a good option for those being tossed off the state plan. It is but a small complication that Hendren has vowed never to vote for the private option and its reapproval is in peril on account of recent elections.

This is no fix.

PS — I invite you to look at existing rate tables to see the unfair difference between coverage for school employees and other state employees. The special session fix will do little to narrow this gap.

Simple comparison  is the monthly rate for just an employee — no spouse or children — for the bronze, silver and gold levels of coverage.

State employee (this means legislators): $0 (yes, zero); $63 and $97.

School employée: $11, $173 and $249.

Look fair to you?

One more comparison, just for fun:

Gold coverage for an employee and family costs a state employee (think state legislator) $280 $424 a month. It costs a school employee $1,133 a month. Next time a legislator bitches about his low pay, keep this sweet perk in mind.

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