More part-time employees offered State Group Health benefits in 2015

in Statewide/Top Headlines by

The early numbers are in and it appears that more part-time employees were offered access to the state group health insurance plan than in 2014.

The Office of Economic and Demographic Research published the results from the January estimating conference. The summary showed that 14,201 more OPS — other personal service — employees were being offered health care coverage in 2015 than the prior year. OPS means “other personal services” and many of the OPS employees are graduate students and teaching assistants who work at one of the state’s universities.

Of those offered coverage, 32.2% tapped into it,according to the preliminary numbers. Of those choosing to use the benefit the majority, or 69.2% enrolled in individual coverage, 30.2% enrolled in family coverage and less than 1% enrolled in spouse coverage.

OPS employees traditionally have not been eligible for health care. The  Legislature in 2013 changed the law to provide them access to benefits in order to avoid an employer penalty under the federal health care law, commonly called Obamacare.

Though the Republican-controlled Legislature was loathe to implement Obamacare, the decision to provide coverage was made because it was more cost effective to provide access than to pay a penalty for not providing coverage. After the Legislature changed the law to provide OPS employees access, the federal government announced it would delay the employer mandate by one year.

Obamacare requires large employers with 50 or more employees to offer access to coverage or to potentially pay a penalty for not insuring them. Employees who work 30 hours per week or more on average are eligible for the coverage.

In other news, an executive summary shows that the State Group Health Insurance Plan is expected to remain solvent through fiscal year 2016-17. The actual ending balance for FY 2013-14 was $441.8 million. The projected end balance for FY 2014-15 is now set at $542.7 million.

In fiscal years 2015-16 the projected balance is expected to be $544.3 million and the projected cash balance dips to $370.6 million in FY 2016-17.

After that, the summary shows, the trust fund is expected to have a negative cash flow as expenses begin to exceed revenue and by 2018-19 the trust fund that pays for state employee health insurance is expected to have a negative balance of $745 million.

The executive summary from the Jan. 14 estimating conference can be found here: HealthInsuranceExecutiveSummary