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College health insurance rate to increase 5 percent

Oct 22, 2013 - By Katie Roenigk, Staff Writer

Employee health insurance rates at Central Wyoming College will go up almost 5 percent in January, school administrators said.

Premiums for 2014 will be lower than they were two years ago, however, and coverage will be expanded through the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

'Not too bad'

Citizens throughout the United States were able to sign up for health insurance through the ACA beginning Oct. 1.

Jennifer Rey, CWC's executive director for human resources, said she was pleased that insurance rates didn't go up more as a result of the ACA.

"I anticipated an increase," Rey said during a CWC Board of Trustees meeting Oct. 15. "I was pleased with simply a 5 percent increase in light of all the discussion that's been going on about health insurance rates."

All plans have been deemed affordable as that term is defined in the new ACA requirements, she added.

Board members agreed that they had been expecting a steeper hike in insurance rates.

"Compared to what you've been hearing on (the news) it's pretty good," board chairman Charlie Krebs said. "It's not too bad."

For single employees with a $350 deductible, rates in 2014 will reach about $735 per month, up more than $30 from last year but just less than the $737 monthly cost in 2012. The college will be required to pay about $664 of the monthly premium for single employees in 2014, up from $636 last year but down from $670 in 2012.

Employees with families will pay about $1,700 per month in 2014 for a $350 deductible, up from $1,626 in 2013 but down slightly from $1,706 in 2012. CWC will pay $1,500 of the total for families in 2014, up from $1,440 in 2013 but down compared to the school's $1,520 contribution in 2012.

Rey said the employer required contribution is funded by both CWC and the state health insurance reimbursement.

ER visits

One area of coverage was not expanded: Emergency room visits next year will result in a $100 copay charge for patients. Rey said the change was implemented to discourage people from using the emergency room as their "primary care office."

"It's not necessarily related to overall cost but a particular pattern of usage," Rey said. "That was one change to the plan that actually cost the employee money."

Wellness

A wellness program that

previously rewarded employees for healthy habits likely will be eliminated from state health plans next year, Rey continued. She said state administrators found it difficult to prove that the program resulted in positive outcomes for employees.

"They've systematically begun to defund the program," she said.

Employees still will receive $25 for attending the Wyoming Health Fairs, however.

"The cost (of) getting blood work at a physician's office (compared to) at a health fair is less, even if (the state pays) the $25 incentive," Rey said. "So they kept that intact to encourage use of the Wyoming Health Fair for annual blood draws."

Other coverage

CWC also offers dental, life and vision insurance to its full-time benefitted employees.

Rey said rates for dental coverage will go up next year, while life and vision insurance rates will remain relatively constant.

"However, the rate for dependent life insurance is increasing from $1.46 to $1.59," Rey said in her memo to the board.

Preventive dental plan rates will go up by 3.7 percent, while optional plan rates should increase by 2.7 percent, Rey said. For a single employee, the monthly premium for preventive dental coverage in 2014 will be $20.49, up from $19.76 in 2013 and $19.70 in 2012. Families will pay $22.64 per month, up from $21.83 in 2013 and $21.76 in 2012.

The optional dental coverage will cost $13.07 per month for single employees in 2014, up from $12.72 in 2013 and $11.72 in 2012. For families, the cost is $30.64 monthly, up from $29.82 in 2013 and $27.48 in 2012.

Rey said CWC employees also will see an increase in their payments to the school's disability program, and the employee contribution to social security has been reinstated this year as well.

"We're working very hard to help keep employees whole from where they were two years ago," she said. "That is becoming a significant challenge."

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Central Wyoming College