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)

About Don Taylor
Professor of Public Policy at Duke University (with appointments in Business, Nursing, Community and Family Medicine, and the Duke Clinical Research Institute). I am one of the founding faculty of the Margolis Center for Health Policy, and currently serve as Chair of Duke's University Priorities Committee (UPC). My research focuses on improving care for persons who are dying, and I am co-PI of a CMMI award in Community Based Palliative Care. I teach both undergrads and grad students at Duke. On twitter @donaldhtaylorjr

One Response to N.C. Proposes Changes in State Employee Health Plan

  1. Lydia Foster says:

    I am a retired teacher in NC Would this change in insurance affect retirees. It seems to me that retirees should be grandfathered in the current program. Is that a possibility??

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