MADISON, Wis. — Health insurance premiums for Wisconsin state employees are expected to remain stable next year.

The Group Insurance Board announced Wednesday that it’ll tap into almost $30 million in reserves to prevent an increase in premiums, The Wisconsin State Journal reported .

The decision comes after the Legislature’s budget committee rejected Gov. Scott Walker’s proposal to self-insure state workers in June. The committee recommended the state Department of Employee Trust Funds save $60 million over two years through benefit changes, negotiating with HMOs and program reserves.

The department said it has saved almost $50 million through negotiating with HMOs and almost $20 million in pharmacy costs, which has saved the general fund about $36 million.

The department expects to make similar moves in 2019 to save the general fund around $25 million, said Mark Lamkins, a department spokesman.

Those changes have caused six of the 18 health plans that currently cover government workers to drop out next year. As a result about 53,000 people will have to switch to a new plan, with about 2,500 needing to find new doctors.

Most state workers have medical and dental coverage premiums of just under $90 a month for individuals and almost $220 for families.

While taping into the reserves will keep costs down next year, more problems may occur in the future as health care costs continue to increase, said Michael Heifetz, an insurance board member and the state’s Medicaid director.

“We may have moved on from a difficult situation for the moment,” Heifetz said. But, “we have likely caused ourselves more difficult situations in the future.”

The Legislature still needs to approve the 2017-2019 budget.


Information from: Wisconsin State Journal, http://www.madison.com/wsj