Expected changes to the 2022 State Health Benefits Plan

Health Benefits Report

By Kevin Lyons

As of this writing, all changes for 2022 have not been finalized. But I wanted to make sure you had up-to-the-minute guidance on where the next year might bring you.

This year, in cooperation with the Division, there have been more changes for the plan, which has not reduced benefits since the introduction of Chapter 78. If you are a member of the SHBP, you can see through the constant stream of mail all the programs available to you, from diabetes and weight loss to selecting providers, mental health and physical therapy. The staff of the SHBP has brought the program from average to outstanding in terms of its offerings. Please review these options on the division website and see if any of them are of interest to you.

It appears that our rates will remain stable through 2022 for actives. At the time I am writing this, the commission has not voted, and there is still some concerning discussion about retiree rates. Non-Medicare retirees from counties and municipalities are on a concerning path, as the incredible rate decrease of a few years ago may have been exhausted. Most likely, a reckoning is coming. Unfortunately, the only influence we have on rates is plan design — we can’t control utilization by our members.

The state employee rates are fairly settled, pending final action. For actives in the PPO plans, the rates will decrease 4.8 percent. Those in the CWA PPO plan will see their rates increase 4.8 percent. This shows us that since our population is still in the Direct 15 plan, our population is healthier and costs less than for those in the CWA plan.

State early retirees will go up approximately 4.4 percent, and Medicare retirees will go up approximately 4.6 percent.

As for the Local actives, the rates seem to be very stable for the next year — somewhere in the area of 2.5 percent increases. As soon as the rates are finalized, I will release them through our media outlets.

Finally, we have been informed that Christin Deacon, who has served as the assistant director of health benefits, will be leaving the division on August 19 to move on to a new career. I can’t emphasize enough how Christin has allowed our members to be true stakeholders in the State Health Benefits Plan, as well as fostering a culture within her staff that has treated our members with the respect they deserve. Christin has been a friend to the PBA, and we hope that relationship continues no matter where her career path takes her.