Minnesota near the top on state employee health plan spending

The State of Minnesota offers extraordinarily generous health benefits for government employees, according to a new report by The Pew Charitable Trusts. The report includes data and 50-state comparisons on issues like employee health insurance premiums, cost-sharing arrangements, and analysis of provider networks.

Among the findings from the Pew report: Minnesota is one of just a handful of states where state employees contribute an average of $0 to individual health plan premiums, with taxpayers picking up the other 100 percent. In 2012, conservative legislators sought modest changes to state employee benefits, asking employees to contribute 10 percent to individual health premiums.

The unions did not budge, and the contracts were put on hold until 2013, when the legislature, under new leadership, ratified the costly contracts. They included across-the-board annual pay increases, including a retroactive pay hike, and increased some health benefits.

As Session Daily reported in 2013, the new contracts "require[d] $76 million in new money this year and an estimated $249 million over for the next biennium.” At the time, the State Employee Group Insurance Plan (SEGIP) estimated that premiums would "increase by approximately 12.5 percent on Dec. 31, 2013, and by 4.4 percent on Dec. 31, 2014." But the cost for those increases will be borne by taxpayers. Here’s how the Minnesota Association of Professional Employees (MAPE) labor union described premiums to their membership: "Under the current contract the state pays 100 percent of the single premium and 85 percent of the dependent premium. On Jan. 1, 2015, this will change and the state will only pay 95 percent of the single coverage premium." Yes, "only" 95 percent.

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