Las Cruces Asks: Is The State Health Insurance Plan The Best Option?

Jul 1, 2013

The Legislative Finance Committee 2013 Third Quarter report card gave low ratings to the State Employee Health Benefits Program.

And as KRWG’s Anthony Moreno reports, rising premiums have some employers that are part of the state plan considering every alternative when it comes to the rising cost of health care.

The report comment section states, “The program is not currently pursuing strategies to preserve benefit quality, and control costs outside of increasing premiums and requiring greater cost sharing plans with employees.”

State employee health benefits have risen fifteen percent along with a three-hundred fifty dollar annual deductible.

State Representative Luciano “Lucky” Verela, Chairman of the Legislative Finance Committee. He believes that a greater increase in pay and transfer of funds from other surpluses will help keep the health benefits fund solvent.

“I’m suggesting more than the one percent salary increase that the legislature provided for. There are other surplus dollars in salaries and benefits, said Verela.

If the state benefits health care rates continue to increase some employers that pay into the plan may begin to examine how viable the costs are compared to the benefits. Andre Moquin is Benefit Director of Human Resources the city of Las Cruces he said the state self-insured plan is currently the best option for the city, however his department has started to research data on alternative options for health benefits.

“Our second phase now is going to be to take a test of market and review of market to see if initial analysis will result in the potential for lower premiums for employees and that is underway as we speak,” said Moquin.

Moquin says that there are some things that he would like to see change with the state plan, like offering more incentives for preventative care.

“One of the things we would to see is through the state program, if we do remain with them, is the opportunity to look at wellness initiatives; and that the employees that are actively taking part in maintaining a healthy lifestyle will have a positive impact on their premiums to encourage that. Preventative care and preventative lifestyles I think are integral in keeping health care costs down,” said Moquin.

Moquin says his biggest concern is that increases to premiums may become too large and the city could be penalized under the incoming Affordable Care Act that says employers must offer affordable health care plans.

For KRWG, I’m Anthony Moreno.