State Employee health plan update

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Today’s meeting of the Health Care Cost Containment Committee was short but interesting. The HCCC, the best kept secret in state government, is a joint labor-management committee under the Comptroller’s Office that makes decisions about the $1.2 billion/year program that covers 208,378 state employees, retirees and dependents. Consultants noted that costs in the program rose 3.4% over the last year, lower than the rest of the market at 6 to 6.5%. It was reported (they ran out of copies of the financial report) that there is an unexpected $14 million surplus in the program this year. However that will be gone next year and leave a large gap due to a large number of expected retirees. It was reported that between 1,600 and 1,800 Corrections employees eligible for retirement have signed up for retirement counseling – that is between half and all of the eligible workers.  It was reported that typically 28% of eligible workers elect to retire when eligible. After a short meeting, the public was dismissed and, according to observers, the “interesting, real meeting starts.” The committee agenda also includes no opportunities for public comment and is not held in an easily accessible public venue. The lack of transparency is reminiscent of CT’s SIM planning process.