by Joseph Coletti
Senior Fellow, Fiscal Studies, John Locke Foundation
New ID cards from the State Health Plan for Teachers and State Employees made at least one teacher angry. What exactly do the cards and accompanying letter say? State government insures itself and contracts with Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina to administer the program. Legislators have never adequately prepared for the future cost of the health care promises they made, which has left nearly that entire liability unfunded. Fortunately, the letter explains how state employees and teachers can do their part.
• “Paid for by YOU and other NC Taxpayers”
This was added to highlight the fact that the Plan and taxpayers like you ultimately pay your medical bills – NOT Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina (Blue Cross NC). They process your claims and provide a network of medical providers, but the money to pay your medical bills comes from you and taxpayers like you.
• Average Premiums Paid
The people of North Carolina value your service. Your employer pays 82 percent of the cost of your State Health Plan benefit. On average, this is more than $3.1 billion per year.
• Easier to Read and Understand
Descriptions for your in-network copays have been simplified to clearly describe the service and your responsibility for payment.
Did You Know?
During 2017, the state spent $3.3 billion on medical and pharmacy benefits. At the same time, costs have increased 5 to 10 percent while funding for the Plan only saw a 4 percent increase. In addition, the state has a $34 billion unfunded liability for retiree health care. This liability is a result of promises that were made for lifetime health benefits but no money was ever put aside to pay for that benefit.
What Can You Do?
You can help sustain this benefit by taking control of your medical costs. Be a smart health care consumer. This new card is a first step by emphasizing that, as a taxpayer, you are paying for your health care.