The health benefits state workers receive will remain intact under the tentative agreement, said Leslie Frane, the executive director of SEIU Local 503. The state covers all premium costs for state employees, a perk the unions have fought and sacrificed to keep over the years.Now the bad:
The state will pay as much as 5% each year for premium increases to maintain existing health insurance coverage. The Public Employees Benefit Board will be asked to use its reserves to cover any increases above 5 percent and below 10 percent.When we started bargaining this year, we learned of this proposal. What it means is that if health care costs rise more than 5% a year, it will come out of members' salaries. In the past contract, we had language that protected us from cost increases of up to 12%:
"For plan year January 1, 2009 through December 31, 2009, the Employer will increase its monthly contributions by up to twelve percent (12%) of the actual monthly composite resulting for plan year 2008."The contract called for both parties to share the expense of health insurance costs exceeding the 12% ceiling. In 2008, health insurance was expected to rise by 6.9%, but thanks to the recession, the national average was an increase of just 5% (which was nevertheless twice the rate of inflation).