“Favorable Medical Trends Portend
Modest Health Insurance Premium Hikes”
July 22, 2014
The bad news is that health insurance premiums for active state and education employees and pre-Medicare retired employees will likely go up for calendar year 2015. The good news is that favorable medical trends in recent years mean they probably won’t go up so much.
Officials of the Oklahoma Employees Insurance and Benefits Board (OEIBB) met July 22 with representatives of various constituency groups – including OREA – to discuss premium rates for HealthChoice High plans for calendar year 2015.
The meeting was held to share information that goes into the rate setting process, and to hear the views of organizations on behalf of their members. Input received at the meeting will be factored into the final premium rates that are expected to be announced for active public employees and former employee pre-Medicare (retirees) rate payers on August 1.
A report from Aon Hewitt, an actuarial firm which does claims research for OEIBB, shows that “medical claims increased relatively little over the last 12 months, ending at a trend level of 3.6% as of December 2013,” lower than expected and lower than long term historical trends.
The story is not so good for pharmacy trends, with the study showing a trend of 9.3% over the recent 24 month period. Nonetheless, this level is close to what was previously projected for calendar year 2013.
What does this news mean for insurance premiums for active and pre-Medicare former employees? It could mean an overall increase in premiums of up to 7.7%, before application of a possible premium subsidy by the insurance and benefits board. In years past, the OEIBB has followed a policy of utilizing approximately 20% of investment reserves to hold down plan premiums. For calendar year 2014, the subsidy was approximately $28 million.
A subsidy amount similar to the one applied for 2014 rates could result in the 7.7% projected rate falling to less than 5.0%, which would amount to an approximate average $250 per person annual savings for the 108,000 individuals in the health insurance plans.
OREA encourages the insurance and benefits board to apply as much of its investment reserves as possible toward the subsidy to keep premiums down, while maintaining a prudent level of financial reserves to ensure plan viability for the future.
At the July 22 meeting, OEIBB officials reported that final Medicare supplement rates will probably not be announced August 1. The board will learn sometime in August the amount of a federally determined Medicare subsidy to be applied to moderate the premium rates. OREA will inform members when that information becomes available.
Fellow Retired Educators,
As your new OREA President, let me introduce myself and update you about a few items concerning our association.
The first thing I would like to do is express appreciation to my predecessor, Elaine Dodd, who recently completed a successful two-year term as President. She was a great President, but now will continue to serve on the Board of Directors as Past President. We will count on her knowledge and skills to continue to benefit OREA in so many ways, but particularly in the advocacy arena.
If you don’t know me, I have been an OREA member since retiring from the Stroud Public Schools several years ago. I served as Director of the North Central District on the OREA Board of Directors from July, 2011 until June 30 of this year.
One of my primary goals as President will be to travel the state to meet as many members as possible. Already, I have a growing schedule of speaking events at dozens of local units. Can I add yours to the list?
I plan to send short emails periodically throughout the year to thousands of OREA members, to share news of the association, and encourage your involvement in everything that’s going on within the organization. I hope to talk about topics of interest to you, including legislative issues and events, member benefits, and many other outstanding OREA programs. I’ll try to focus on the relevant, and be succinct about it. I know your time is valuable, and I don’t want to waste it.
My messages will come to you under the heading “Did You Know?” I hope you’ll look for them. Please don’t be reluctant to let me know how I’m doing. Help me interact with you on matters you consider important.
Until you hear from me again, thank you for being a member of the Oklahoma Retired Educators Association.
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Click here to read the 2014 SummerNews Bulletin
“Mike Turpen Brand of Love and Humor
Makes OREA Convention All Good!”
One of the best-attended and liveliest OREA state conventions in recent years was held Wednesday and Thursday, May 7-8, at the Reed Conference Center in Midwest City. Judging by the decibel level and numerous member testimonials, it was one of the best in recent memory.
Much of the noise came from the belly laughter generated by Mike Turpen, the convention’s keynote speaker, who kept the audience entertained and inspired with a 30-minute speech touching on a variety of life topics. Just days before Mother’s Day, Turpen painted a poignant picture of the loving impact his own mother had on his life. In rapid-fire fashion thereafter, he threw out one-liners, each used to illustrate lessons applicable to all stages of our lives.
Mike Turpen is a former Oklahoma Attorney General, and for more than 20 years has been a cast member of the popular Flashpoint program which airs Sunday mornings on Oklahoma City’s KFOR Channel 4.
Turpen challenged conventioneers to think big, behave courageously, value relationships, and live every second, minute and day to the fullest. The foundation for his presentation was his newly published book, Turpen Time: The Wit and Wisdom of Mike Turpen, a collection of 50 vignettes about people, events and lessons from his life. Thanks to the generosity of Harland Stonecipher, an early Turpen mentor, every member of the convention audience received a complimentary copy of Turpen Time.
Adding icing to the cake, the speaker devoted over an hour during the noon luncheon visiting with and personally autographing books for dozens of OREA members.
Praise for the Turpen speech was heard coming from several hardened conventioneers who came convinced they would be offended by what they expected to be just another worn out offering from a career politician. My, how wrong they were!
Click here to view pictures from the 2014 OREA Convention...
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“Program Ideas for Local Unit Meetings and Activities”
Need a new, fresh program idea for your local county meeting? Thanks to the OREA Communications Committee and the Tulsa Metro Retired Educators Association for their suggestions.
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