Health insurance costs increase

by Lesley Politi on December 11, 2008

Active and retired state workers will see a 5 percent increase in the cost of their health insurance, the Nevada Public Employees Benefit Board decided Wednesday.

The increase is designed to save $23 million over the next fiscal year by reducing the state subsidy to health insurance premiums.

The state presently chips in $532 a month for an average employee with the worker paying $28 a month. For family coverage, the subsidy is $878 and the employee pays $143.

For retirees without Medicare, the state provides $366 and the individual contributes $180. Those with Medicare coverage get a $211 subsidy and pay $73 per month.

Randall Kirner, chairman of the benefits board, said the panel took the “least offensive” approach, adding, “There is only so much money.”

The increase coupled with earlier benefit cutbacks will save the state $50.8 million over the next two years.

While employees and retirees didn’t like the cutbacks in subsidies, they were more concerned about a government efficiency committee that is considering major reductions to the plan.

The Spending and Government Efficiency Commission, appointed by Gov. Gibbons, is considering a proposal to have employees pay 25 percent of health premiums instead of the current 5 percent, and to double a co-pay on drugs to $10. That move would result in $300 million in savings.

Jim Richardson of the University of Nevada Reno, said the suggestions being considered by SAGE are “draconian” and would “destroy a pretty good health plan.”


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