April 2012 Issue
March 21, 2012

National health care reform helps members

Author: Sue Klug
Source: NYSUT United

How have NYSUT members benefited from national health care reform?

Some health insurance premium increases in 2011 and 2012 were lower for both in-service and retired NYSUT members due to the Affordable Care Act's Early Retiree Reinsurance Program (ERRP).

This national program allocated $5 billion to encourage employer-sponsored plans to continue benefits for pre-Medicare retirees. Employers could apply for federal funds to cover 80 percent of the cost of early retirees' claims ranging from $15,000 to $90,000. The reimbursements had to be used to lower health benefit costs for plan enrollees, or to reduce the future premium costs.

Although the $5 billion is almost depleted, many employers covering NYSUT in-service and retired members received reimbursements from the federal government to offset the high claim costs. For example, as of Jan. 19, the state of New York received $88 million dollars of ERRP funds for the New York State Health Insurance Program (Empire Plan and NYSHIP HMOs). In 2012, the Empire Plan premium aggregate increase for local government and school districts was only 2.7 percent, partially due to ERRP.

For a list of amounts employers received, please reference the 2012 ERRP Report at cciio.cms.gov.

Other Affordable Care Act provisions affecting members in 2012 include rebates to policy holders from insurers spending less than 85 percent of premium on medical care, and a standard summary of benefits to help members understand and compare health plans.

— Sue Klug