Fri, Sep 8, 2023 5:24 PM
By Merrilee Gasser, The Center Square
Employees on the Arkansas State Employee (ASE) health insurance plan and the Public School Employee (PSE) plan saw their premiums increase between 2021 and 2022, according to an annual review.
The Legislative Joint Auditing Committee reviewed an audit of the employee benefit plans on Friday.
About 750 subscribers dropped from the ASE plan from June 2021 to June 2022, the review found. Meanwhile, over 840 people joined the PSE plan.
The ASE plan received 59% of its funding from the state - $202.9 million – during fiscal year 2022. Thirty-three percent of its funding came from subscriber monthly premium payments, a total of $144.7 million, and the final 8% of its funding came from other sources.
The review showed the ASE plan’s revenue increased from $297.2 million in 2021 to $343.6 million in 2022.
“The increase in revenue was primarily due to additional legislative funding for employer premium contributions as well as subscriber increases,” said Danny Leath with Arkansas Legislative Audit, who presented the findings.
Subscribers to the ASE plan paid $9.7 million more in 2022 than they did the previous year, according to the review. Monthly active and retiree contributions increased 5% in 2022. The wellness discount was also reduced from $50 to $25 per month.
“That effect of the premium increase and the wellness discount reduction was an increase in subscribers’ out-of-pocket monthly premium payment ranging from 9% to 49%,” Leath said.
The PSE plan received 33% of its funding from subscriber premiums, a total of $146.7 million in fiscal year 2022, according to the review. School contributions made up 25% of the plan’s funding and 37% came from legislative funding. Five percent of the plan’s funding came from other sources.
The PSE plan’s review jumped from $360.5 million in 2021 to $439.7 million the following year, the report showed.
Subscribers on the PSE plan paid $13.3 million more in 2022 than they did in 2021, the audit found.
The increase in funding for PSE was attributed primarily to $20 million in additional legislative funding from Act 154 of 2022 and an additional $35 million in restricted reserve funding.
When asked how the PSE plan would have fared without the additional $55 million in support from the legislature, Director of the Employee Benefits Division (EBD) Grant Wallace said the extra funding was needed at that time.
“The trajectory that EBD was on would have continued to operate in a deficit, so it needed those additional influx of resources,” Wallace said.