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Arkansas board approves changes to employee health insurance premiums

photo from health insurance meeting.jpg
Ronak Patel
Jake Bleed, director of the Employee Benefits Division (center), explains to the State Board of Finance during a June meeting issues with the employee health insurance plan.

Changes to Arkansas’ health insurance plan for state employees and public school employees have been approved. The State Board of Finance on Monday unanimously voted in favor adopting new rates proposed by the Employee Benefits Division (EBD).

Director of the EBD Jake Bleed said one change is dropping a wellness program requirement.

“Going forward, we will not have a difference in our rates for those who meet wellness requirements and those who do not, at least for the time being. Now like I said, we will have a wellness program in the future and I certainly look forward to bringing it to the Board of Finance,” Bleed said.

The board also approved changing the monthly payments made by members on the plan. In 2023, state employees will be expected to pay $172 a month, while public school employees will be expected to pay $221 a month, according to a spreadsheet provided by Bleed.

The new rates approved by the board are lower than rates paid in the previous fiscal year, which will need to be approved by a legislative subcommittee to take effect.

Bleed said the state expected to shoulder more of the cost of health insurance makes this rate decrease possible.

“About 80% of our active employees will see decreases, sometimes pretty significantly over the next five years,” Bleed said. “That’s a reflection of those two policies, primarily the actuarial adjustment as well as the shouldering by the state.”

Last month, the Board of Finance and a legislative subcommittee approved a recommendation from the division for the state to pay 80% of the cost of health insurance premiums, which is a 15% increase.

Ronak Patel was a reporter for KUAR News focusing on state and local government.
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