Jon Ortiz

The State Worker
Jon Ortiz chronicles civil-service life for California state workers
By Jon Ortiz
jortiz@sacbee.com
03/18/2015 – 4:27 PM

Unions lined up Wednesday to oppose Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposal to offer high-deductible medical coverage to state employees, suggesting it could hurt workers’ health instead of improving it.

“We think that high-deductible plans are a very bad thing,” SEIU Local 1000 President Yvonne Walker said during a Senate subcommittee hearing into Brown’s plan.

Meanwhile, state experts said it’s not clear whether a plan with high-monthly premiums and a tax-advantaged health savings account would save money in the long run. The most comprehensive studies take in only three years, not nearly long enough to establish a reliable trend.

Brown wants to add at least one health plan to the state’s menu that would give subscribers lower monthly premiums and a tax-advantaged health-savings account in exchange for higher co-pays for visits to doctor significantly larger deductibles for treatments, hospitalization and drugs.

High-deductible plans and health-savings accounts have become common in the private sector as a way for employers to shift more health care cost to their employees. This year the state will pay about $3 billion for employee medical benefits.

Brown has said he intends to bargain the new tier of health insurance coverage with unions when their contracts expire, but Wednesday’s hearing served notice that labor organizations won’t meekly go along.

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