Senator Tom Lee, District 20 — Press Release
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 13, 2017
Senator Tom Lee Tackles Lack of Options and Rising Cost of State Employee Health Insurance in Latest Bill
Senator Tom Lee (R-Thonotosassa) announced today the filing of SB 900, directed at modernizing Florida’s State Group Health Insurance Plan (Plan), which provides benefits to more than 360,000 state employees and their families.
The state currently offers a Preferred Provider Operation (PPO) group-insurance plan and regional Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) plans. Employees pay the same premium for both plans ($50 a month for single coverage and $180 for family coverage), despite differences in benefit design and value of the products. The state also offers a high-deductible, low premium option – a popular choice in the private sector – which has a participation rate among state employees of slightly more than one percent.
"Our current plan offers limited choices and lacks the price transparency needed for employees and their families to make cost-effective healthcare purchases,” Senator Lee said. “This bill incorporates modern, innovative models for delivering high-quality healthcare at lower costs that will empower state employees to decide what benefits make the most sense for them.”
SB 900 requires the Plan, beginning in 2020, to offer four levels of coverage at different price and benefit levels – bronze, silver, gold and platinum – giving employees a choice to either purchase a plan at a lower price point and share in the cost savings, pay more for top-tier coverage, or choose something at the level of the state’s contribution. If the state’s contribution is more than the premium cost of the health plan selected by the employee, the employee may elect to use the balance to credit their flexible spending or health savings account, purchase additional benefits or increase their salary.
Senator Lee added, “If an individual decides they don’t want or need the full coverage offered by the state’s traditional plan, why not give at least some of the cost back to them in another way — maybe in the form of increases in their health-savings accounts, maybe in the form of more take-home pay?”
SB 900 also requires the Department of Management Services (DMS) to adjust the cost of existing products in the Plan to reflect the difference in the value of benefits. DMS will submit the recommended premiums to the Legislative Budget Commission for approval. DMS must also hire an independent consultant to assist in any modifications to the Plan. Additionally, the bill creates a price transparency program aimed at educating and informing employees about their healthcare choices, including quality and average price information for services and providers. Employees who choose low cost, high quality treatment will share in any savings generated by their choice.
“Our one-size-fits-all approach to insurance coverage hasn’t kept pace with what’s available in the private sector,” Senator Lee said. “This bill eliminates waste in our current system while promoting and improving consumer choice.”