Under the Dome

SEANC steaming over new State Health Plan proposal

The State Employees Association of North Carolina is accusing state Treasurer Janet Cowell of rushing through a State Health Plan that would more than triple premiums.

The proposal, which will be voted on by a health plan board of trustees in the Treasurer’s Office on Monday, was presented to House and Senate leaders and SEANC on Thursday.

According to SEANC legislative affairs director Ardis Watkins, the board originally called for a meeting on Super Bowl Sunday, before rescheduling.

“We had a real problem with that,” Watkins told Dome on Friday. “Our main problem is transparency and openness in the process. When you’re deciding something as significant as a benefit of employment, like the health plan, it’s not something that needs to be rushed.”

UPDATED: Cowell’s office didn’t have a public comment, but provided a copy of the proposal. Records posted on the health plan website show the proposal to increase premiums through surcharges was discussed at the November board meeting. But the current proposal didn't surface until a few days ago.

Two years ago, state employees didn’t have to pay premiums at all. That changed in 2011 under action taken by the General Assembly, which also moved the plan to the treasurer’s office where it could be better managed.

Those in the 80/20 plan would see surcharges added for smoking, for not designating a primary care provider and not completing a health assessment. In addition, premiums will increase under the proposal, to more than $1,200 a year by 2016, SEANC says.

There are are more than 650,000 employed and retired state workers and their dependents enrolled in the plan currently.


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Hmmm They can always sign up for Obama Care!

In a final regulation issued Wednesday, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) assumed that under Obamacare the cheapest health insurance plan available in 2016 for a family will cost $20,000 for the year.

Under Obamacare, Americans will be required to buy health insurance or pay a penalty to the IRS.

The IRS’s assumption that the cheapest plan for a family will cost $20,000 per year is found in examples the IRS gives to help people understand how to calculate the penalty they will need to pay the government if they do not buy a mandated health plan.

The examples point to families of four and families of five, both of which the IRS expects in its assumptions to pay a minimum of $20,000 per year for a bronze plan.

“The annual national average bronze plan premium for a family of 5 (2 adults, 3 children) is $20,000,” the regulation says.

Bronze will be the lowest tier health-insurance plan available under Obamacare–after Silver, Gold, and Platinum. Under the law, the penalty for not buying health insurance is supposed to be capped at either the annual average Bronze premium, 2.5 percent of taxable income, or $2,085.00 per family in 2016.

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