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State employees react to first-ever insurance deductible proposal

State employees said yesterday they did not support a proposal that would give them pay raises for the first time in 4½ years because the proposal would also, for the first time, implement a deductible for state employee health insurance.

The contracts between the state and the State Employees’ Association, the New Hampshire Troopers Association, the New England Police Benevolent Association and the Teamsters would give workers across-the-board raises of 1.5 percent July 1 this year, 2.25 percent July 1, 2014, and 2.25 percent Jan. 1, 2015.

There are roughly 30,000 people on the state health insurance including dependants, said Matt Newland, the state’s manager of employee relations and chairman of the state negotiating committee.

Currently, their maximum out-of-pocket expenses each year are $500 for an individual and $1,000 for a family. Under the proposal, the maximum out-of-pocket expense on top of the monthly premium would be $1,000 for an individual and $1,750 for a family in fiscal year 2014, or $2,000 for a family in fiscal year 2015.

Under the proposed plan, certain expenses – lab work or ambulatory surgery – done at approved site of service vendors that charge lower rates would be exempt from the deductible. Hospitalizations would be subject to the deductible.

Preventive care, screenings and surgeries that can be done in a doctor’s office would also be exempt from the deductible.

State workers represented by the SEA, the largest union representing state workers, haven’t had an across-the-board pay raise since January 2009, and are expected to meet to vote on the contracts tonight.

Several said yesterday, however, they hope the contracts fail.

“I would be totally against that. . . . The benefits are the reason I came to work for the state,” said Brett McCrea of Laconia, who has worked for the Department of Transportation for almost 25 years.

“The salary doesn’t compare to the private sector, but it was the so-called job security, the good benefits, the good pension that are attractive for people. . . . I consider myself a Republican but I am definitely against the Republicans right now. We’re people, too, but I don’t think they care.”

Matt MacDonald of Madison has also been with the DOT for more than 20 years, and said with two children on his health plan, the cost of the deductible could add up quickly.

“We’re paying a portion of the health care costs now. It’s small, but it’s there. They keep grabbing more and more and it’s gonna start hurting soon,” he said.

Another employee who declined to give his name called the proposal a “slippery slope.”

Steve, an employee from the Department of Information Technology who declined to provide his last name, said he’s surprised it’s taken this long for the state to institute a deductible.

“It’s a Cadillac plan. A deductible is typical of what most private insurance has, when you’re not with the state,” he said.

“For years, they always said they were keeping salaries lower because of the benefits they were giving. I’d rather have the money.”

(Sarah Palermo can be reached at 369-3322 or
spalermo@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @SPalermoNews.)

I hope that state employees realize that this is a direct result of Obamacare but still a shadow of what the private sector workers will be going through in 2014.

Yes, but what everyone fails to take into consideration is that even before the "Freeze" on hiring worker bees (not commissioners, directors and other highly paid staff), each contract brought those lovely 2-3% raises, but on the other end it is taken away by new "fees" or co-pays. Our cadillac dental will only cover about one root canal a year before using up the maximum balance. State employees are grateful to have jobs, but are also taxpayers so we are entitled to our opinion. I think many of the haters out there will soon see their wishes come true as most of the educated and talented do move to the private sector and many may be surprised at how much they do currently produce once it is lost.

One thing to add a small amount of reality check here is the fact that NH State employees (rank and file) are on no gravy train. I worked for the State of Mass as Network System Analyst III until I retired after 12 years to babysit my first grand daughter. It was better for me to pay $10K a year in Mass Income tax and commute than to take the $40K a year pay cut for the same position in NH. So all I can say to the "anti-state" workers is quit your whining although it does amuse me greatly. I don't get this and they do - that's not fair. Waaaaaaaaaaa.

Would all those readers that have not gotten a raise since the Obama summer of recovery #1 that strted4 years ago please raise your hand. For those readers that have deductibles in your insurance plans raise your hand. To the State employees - look around all those hands up in the air are your BOSSES

You seem to be under the impression that state employees don't pay taxes, making them subservient to the tax payers in NH.

They are public "servants" who contribute to the administration of the state and are paid accordingly. They made the adult and informed decision to accept a job, with all of its limitations and benefits and they are now complaining. 37 hours per week in not the norm outside of public service. That leaves plenty of time for another part time job.

Republic: Yes, they made an adult & informed decision to accept a job w/ the state... however the terms have changed. Many state employees went to work for the state knowing that the pay would never equal the private sector equivalent, but, the health insurance made up for it. Also, not all state employees work 37.5, some work 40 hours or more. As far as a part time job, that might not be an option for some, because they have families, they already work a part time job, or due to their position, they must be available for on-call or mandated shifts. Aside from all that, Republic, I do agree with many of your posts, and your screen name.

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