EHA Approves ‘20-21 Premium Rates

There will be an overall increase of 6.71 percent in premiums next year for the medical and dental insurance plans used by nearly every Nebraska school district, after action by the Educators Health Alliance (EHA) in late October.

The rate will affect premiums for the 2020-21 school year. Medical insurance rates will increase 6.97 percent and dental rates 2 percent, resulting in an overall premium increase of 6.71 percent.

When the plan year begins on Sept. 1, 2020, it will mark the 18th consecutive increase of less than 10 percent. The average increase over the past 10 years has been just 3.8 percent.  

“While medical inflation and an increase in taxes has resulted in a higher increase than last year, the Board has worked diligently to manage the plan and is pleased to have kept the average increase under 4 percent for the last decade,” said Sheri Jablonski, EHA chair. She noted that five times in the past 10 years the increase has been less than 3 percent.

The EHA is a consortium of the NSEA, the Nebraska Association of School Boards, and the Nebraska Council of School Administrators. 

Wellness Plan Works

Jablonski said the single digit increase is made possible by:

  • A program to assist in management of chronic diseases;
  • Holding the line on health and administrative increases;
  • Prudent management in the design and choices of benefit plans, and;
  • The positive effect of the EHA’s statewide wellness and health promotion program.

“EHA’s wellness program has been instrumental in improving the health of EHA-covered employees,” she said.

While the 2020-21 plans include modest increases in physician and pharmacy copays, deductibles remain the same for all plans except the $3,500 deductible HSA plan. That plan will have a $100 increase to $3,600 due to the plan’s absence of pharmacy and prescription copays.  All plans will have a modest increase in out-of-pocket maximums except the $4,000 HSA plan, which will have a slight out-of-pocket maximum decrease.    

Single-Digit Increases

As the board evaluated possible benefit changes, it compared EHA benefit changes with employer surveys and found that most employers modified benefits each year, said Beth Kernes Krause, EHA vice chair and Auburn Public Schools Board of Education member.

“Over the last 9 years, the average employer surveyed reduced benefits by 13 percent. The EHA benefit reduction over the same time period was less than 6 percent,” she said. “The board felt it appropriate to increase physician and pharmacy copays since it had been several years since either of these copays were changed.”

The EHA Board has taken action to help manage the plan and provide a proper balance between premium increases and benefit changes, said NSEA Executive Director Maddie Fennell.

“We believe these changes will allow the EHA to continue to see single digit rate increases in the future,” she said.

John Spatz, executive director of the Nebraska Association of School Boards said the EHA board understands financial concerns of educators and the fiscal constraints facing school districts.

“It is an important responsibility of the EHA Board to balance the health insurance premium increase and the benefit adjustments for both districts and individual employees,” said Spatz.

“Board members take the responsibility for plan oversight very seriously,” said Dr. Mike Dulaney, executive director of the Nebraska Council of School Administrators. “The rate increase and benefit decisions for the coming plan year were well thought out and were thoroughly discussed prior to the board reaching a decision.”