Healthcare – Open Enrollment/Changes to State Health Benefit Program
Open enrollment for healthcare plans under the State Health Benefit Program is scheduled to begin October 1, 2022. We wanted to take this time to explain the changes to the healthcare plans for the State Benefit Program.
The healthcare premiums for the State Health Benefits Program are scheduled to increase January 1, 2023.
The State Health Benefit Program issued a report in July 2022 recommending a 20.7% increase for the plans in which active employees in the State Employee Group are enrolled. We fought back. In solidarity with other State Unions, our collective power pushed the vote back to September and contract negotiations with the State began to offset these costs. We took part in a Statewide rally in Trenton on September 13th to show the legislature this increase was unacceptable.
Our negotiations unit employees are currently enrolled in the Chapter 78 PPO and HMO plans (NJ Direct 15, NJ Direct 15/25, or the High Deductible plan) and the final approved premium increase is 19.6%. There is no increase in copays for the PPO plans. The Specialist Copy will increase from $15 to $30 for the Tiered Network plan and the HMO plan. The Urgent Care Copy will increase from $15 to $45 for the Tiered Network plan and the HMO plan.
There is another option to this outrageous increase to our premium costs however it requires the State to direct University Hospital to negotiate the Chapter 78 rates with HPAE.
At Rutgers and Rowan, HPAE and the State were able to negotiate a much lower increase to premium cost for the Unity/NJ Direct and Unity NJ Direct 2019 plans for our members. As a result, the premium increase will be 3% starting in January 2023 for those employees who are participating in the Unity/NJ Direct plans and Unity NJ Direct 2019. For example, if an employees’ current contribution for the family plan is 7% of salary, effective January 1, 2023, the employee’s contribution shall be 7.21% of salary. Negotiations Unit Employees participating in the Tiered Network plan shall continue to 75% of the NJ direct/Unity plan contributions.
In addition, the Specialist Copay for the NJ Direct/Unity plans will increase from $15 to $30 and will also apply to the Tiered Network plan and the HMO plan. The Urgent Care Copy will increase from $15 to $45 and will also apply to the Tiered Network plan and the HMO plan. There will be no changes of copays for the treatment of OB/GYN for any plan type.
These changes are part of a one-year pilot program following the States assertion of increased plan use following the COVID pandemic and recommendations from Aon, the actuary for the State Health Benefit Program. Prior to the end of the Plan Year 2023, the Unions and the State shall review relevant and available utilization and cost information relevant to the Specialist and Urgent Care copays.
Fighting for your right to healthcare plan options:
We demanded to bargain the Healthcare changes in 2020 but the Hospital refused to come to the table and negotiate. We proposed negotiated Healthcare changes in our more recent contract negotiations for our successor agreement, but the Hospital refused to negotiate for a lowered cost healthcare option. We are again demanding to bargain over the increase to the healthcare premiums to prevent the State from absorbing our hard-fought wage increases through health insurance increased costs.
We will continue to provide you with updates as more information comes available from the State and during the Open Enrollment period.
Banita Herndon, President, Local 5089
Justin O’Hea and Ryan Novosielski, Co-Presidents, Local 5094
Roshni Danak, Co-Secretary Local 5094
Judy Vincenty, UH Chair Local 5094