When the Idaho Legislature and Gov. Brad Little agreed to provide $105 million to increase health insurance coverage in the state of Idaho, many hailed it as “change the game” that would allow counties to match the state’s insurance policy with its lower costs.
But as of this month, only 20% of Idaho counties have joined the state plan. Why is that?
Recently, we visited with 6 regional leaders to find out why. We met with administrators from two small rural counties (Cambridge and Midvale), one central county (Weiser), and three of the largest counties in Idaho (Boise, Nampa, and West Ada).
Of the six, Nampa is the only one who will enter the government process. Nampa will use federal ARPA funds to cover the $600,000 it will incur in support of the program. Nampa officials indicated that the state’s biggest selling point will be recognition and employee stability as well as better profitability. Like many counties, Nampa has experienced rising annual insurance premiums and volatile insurance rates.
For the other five states, the cost of continuing to join the state system was significantly higher. The main reason? The state calculated the cost of the insurance distribution (an additional $4,000 plus per employee) based on the number of state-sponsored employees and the amount paid for each position.
But many regions are hiring More information public sector workers (bus drivers, special education aides, administrators, food service workers, etc.), more than government-sponsored positions, and government-sponsored positions (e.g., special education teachers and certified and appointed staff works with immigrants and English. students). In addition, several employees (business managers, technicians, human resources officers, etc.) employed by the government are paid much more than the $26,000 that the government allocates for these positions, resulting in a decrease in the number of positions. government money really.
As a result, many Idaho states chose to use the new money to improve the health insurance plans they offer to their employees instead of joining the state insurance plan, which would have required states to reach deeper into their discretionary funds now and in the future.. Fortunately, federal officials have provided flexibility for the new funding so that counties can come up with local solutions and improve health insurance plans.
West Ada County, Idaho’s largest, was able to significantly reduce family insurance premiums, saving workers and families up to $6,156 a year. Weiser increased the share of employee insurance by about 50%, and cut family insurance by half. Similarly, Cambridge and Midvale expanded existing facilities for their employees, and Boise was able to reduce family costs by 40%.
The governor’s commitment to local control, which is the majority vote in Idaho, was well supported by the passage of insurance bills by the Legislature. Local solutions are designed to solve local problems, which look very different in Cambridge than they do in Boise.
The implementation of these laws sheds light on the issues of the working class and its wages. Every school district in the state hires more (sometimes double) the number of employees assigned by the state, and pays more for other jobs than the district provides. In addition, every state employee said they would need to raise hourly wages to compete with these workers. These issues need to be addressed in future legislative sessions.
Teachers are grateful for the governor’s and Legislature’s commitment to reducing insurance costs and controlling employee deductibles and co-payments, along with other medical expenses. We understand that this is an ongoing commitment for our employees and their families.
Our hope going forward is that with the additional budget information to come, additional steps will be taken to establish and strengthen the basic funding to support important insurance policies.
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