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Senate bill would shake up state worker health insurance plans

in Statewide by

Legislation filed in the Senate would let state employees decide between four levels of group health insurance coverage, so they could buy cheaper, stripped-down plans or pay for more comprehensive care.

“Our current plan offers limited choices and lacks the price transparency needed for employees and their families to make cost-effective health care purchases,” bill sponsor Tom Lee said in a written statement.

“This bill incorporates modern, innovative models for delivering high-quality health care at lower costs that will empower state employees to decide what benefits make the most sense for them,” the Thonotosassa Republican said.

SB 900 would allow state workers to choose between bronze, silver, gold, or platinum plans, depending on how many benefits they’d like to pay for.

If a plan costs less than the state’s share of a worker’s monthly premium, the worker could stash the extra money in a flexible savings or health savings account, or buy extra benefits — or take the extra money as a pay increase.

The measure would take effect in 2020.

“If an individual decides they don’t want or need the full coverage offered by the state’s traditional plan, why not give at least some of the cost back to them in another way — maybe in the form of increases in their health-savings accounts, maybe in the form of more take-home pay?” Lee said.

The State Group Health Insurance Plan covers more than 360,000 state employees through either preferred-provider organizations or HMOs. Workers pay $50 per month for individual coverage and $180 for families.

A little more than 1 percent choose in another option — a high-deductible, low-premium plan.

The Department of Management Services would submit recommended premiums to the Legislative Budget Commission for approval.

The bill would create a price transparency program to educate employees about their choices — including quality and price information for services and providers.

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