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Archive for Monday, April 6, 1992

STATE WORKERS FACE INSURANCE CHANGES

April 6, 1992

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State employees at Kansas University and elsewhere are being warned of possible health insurance premium increases and a reduction in benefits next year.

"There is a lot of speculation about this," said Richard Mann, university director of information services. "None of the options are very pleasant. We want people to know there is a concern.''

"We all know costs are going up. So, how do you balance all these things?" Mann said.

Options raised by the state's Health Benefits Administration, which works on behalf of the Kansas State Employees Health Care Commission, include:

A 15 to 25 percent premium increase.

A reduction of benefits at the current rate.

Elimination of the current Health Maintenance Organization program.

A 240-day waiting period for new employees.

THE THREE-MEMBER health care commission is responsible for approving the state employee health insurance program.

"The administration's staff is projecting some difficult circumstances," Mann said. "The only concerns we have are, one, to let people know what the possible outlook is. And the other is: Is this the only alternative?"

A final decision on the 1993 health insurance plan won't be made until later this year, said Madi Vannaman, assistant director of human resources at KU.

"There are a lot of different scenarios. They're not all even possibilities," she said.

However, Vannaman said, it's clear that state employees face "some kind of rate increase."

"This is going to be a real help for recruiting," Peggy Baker, president of KU Classified Senate, said sarcastically.

Baker said the bidding process for state employee health insurance needs to be improved.

"ONLY ONE company bids. We need to find out why and change the process so that more bid," she said.

Blue Cross and Blue Shield has been the only bidder for several years, she said.

Dave Charay, health benefits administrator, was unavailable to comment today. He sent a letter recently to state agencies outlining his concerns about 1993.

"The (anticipated premium) increase, combined with the possibility that employees will be receiving little or no increase in pay in fiscal 1993 could mean that some difficult decisions may be necessary," he wrote in the letter.

Charay wants state agency heads to determine what their employees would prefer.

"Would most employees favor a similar benefit structure even with higher costs to them? Or would they prefer a reduction in benefits in order to maintain employee contributions at the present or lower level?" he wrote.

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