I’ve been talking about Medicaid and the possibility of budget cuts. Now let me turn to another major health expense for NC that GOPers are already mentioning as a place for cuts – NC’s state employees’ health plan. The plan insures over half a million schoolteachers, snowplow drivers (some of my favorite people at the moment), highway patrol officers and others. Like other workers, health coverage is an important basic benefit for state employees. And costs in the state health plan continue to rise just like health care costs in private health insurance plans. This makes a nice talking point when legislators are looking an easy budget cut but are state health plan costs really out of line with other health plans?
This is a question with an answer. Last year a special study commissioned by the oversight committee of the state health plan was conducted by the private business group Aon Consulting to compare the costs of NC’s state health plan to the costs of the plans in Georgia, Virginia, and Tennessee.
The findings? NC has the lowest – yes, lowest – cost per employee or family member insured of all states studied. Why? Aon Consulting suggested that the health plan was getting better rates from doctors, keeping state employees in local provider networks, and managing health risk better. Bottom line here is pretty simple. NC is already paying the lowest per employee for health coverage of any surrounding state. To cut more from the NC State Health Plan where cost sharing is already extremely high and many other cost saving measures are already clearly in place and working, is really going to hurt our state employees. Like many parts of state government that have seen billions of cuts over the last two years, it’s hard to cut more when cuts have already been deep and sustained.