Board had Announced Zero Percent Rate Increase
As negotiators get deep into contract talks for the 2018-19 school year, one false report regarding the Educators Health Alliance health care plan for that school year must be put completely to rest: there is absolutely no change in coverage from the 2017-18 to the 2018-19 plan.
NSEA members who saw last month’s announcement already know that there will be no change in rates from 2017-18 to 2018-19, but there was speculation among some that the lack of a rate hike signaled changes to the health care plan. That is not true, said NSEA Associate Executive Director Neal Clayburn, who chairs the EHA Board of Directors.
“We have managed this plan well. We have saved participants money. We have saved school districts, and school district patrons, money,” said Clayburn. “Not only will there be no change in the rates in 2018-19, there will be no change in plan benefits.”
All but four Nebraska school districts use the EHA plan, managed by NSEA, the Nebraska Association of School Boards and the Nebraska Council of School Administrators.
When the 2018-19 plan year begins on Sept. 1, 2018, it will mark the 16th consecutive rate increase of less than 10 percent and the second time there has been a zero percent increase, said Clayburn. The average annual increase over the past eight years has been 3.3 percent.
The 2018-19 plan also boasts no increase in medical deductibles or other copays. The zero percent increase is for all plan options. Rate increases in the previous seven years were 7.99 percent; 4.9 percent; 1.91 percent; 2.30 percent; 6.40 percent; 2.99 percent; and zero percent.
As Clayburn announced last month, the freeze in premium rates is made possible by several factors, including:
- The statewide effect of EHA’s wellness and health promotion program;
- Recent lower than anticipated utilization rates in hospital and physician services;
- Pharmacy benefit management programming that has led to reduced pharmacy trends;
- A program designed to assist in the management of chronic diseases;
- Holding the line on health and administrative cost increases and;
- Continued prudent management in the design and choices of benefit plans.
EHA health insurance rates for the 2018-19 plan year apply to seven available active employee health benefit plans, three early retiree benefit plans, and five dental benefit plans.
The non-profit EHA was created to procure quality, affordable health care insurance for Nebraska education employees. Rates set by the EHA board are for the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Nebraska (BCBSNE) health care plan used by more than 400 public school district and affiliate groups in the state. The plan is governed by a 12-member board representing the Nebraska Association of School Boards, the Nebraska Council of School Administrators and the NSEA. More than 80,000 Nebraskans are covered by the plan.