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
email@example.com or on Twitter @SPalermoNews.)