N.C. Proposes Changes in State Employee Health Plan

Republican lawmakers who control both Houses of the North Carolina General Assembly for the first time since 1892 (not a typo) are moving forward with S265 (it passed out of committee this morning), which will bring about a series of changes in the N.C. State Employees Health Plan.  The major changes are:

  • charge State employees an employee premium for employee-only health insurance for the first time ($11/month, or $22/month depending on plan they choose). Currently an employee with employee-only coverage pays no monthly premium, though premiums have long been charged for family coverage.  80% of N.C. State employees currently insure no spouse or dependents. A key issue in many of the problems the plan has had in recent years likely stem from the lack of young, healthy dependents in the plan.
  • Rescind the move to put employees who are severely obese (BMI of 40+) and/or who smoked cigarettes into a less generous plan, unless they lost weight or quit smoking, which would have effectively increased their out of pocket cost share (was to take effect July 1, 2011).
  • Assign oversight of the State Employee health plan to the State Treasurer, and away from more direct control by the General Assembly.
  • Increase co-pays and deductibles.
  • Make any future contracts to administer the self-insured plan (currently administered by Blue Cross/Blue Shield NC) a matter of public record; they are confidential now.

This bill is a bit less contentious than H2 that stated the individual mandate in the ACA didn’t apply in N.C. and directed the state Attorney General to bring or join a lawsuit against the federal law; Governor Perdue, A Democrat, vetoed the law, though Republicans may still be able to override the veto.

Full disclosure: My wife is a nurse at UNC Hospitals, so is a State Employee (who declines State coverage and is insured along with me and our kids by Duke’s insurance plan)

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