(Raleigh, N.C.) – State Treasurer Dale R. Folwell, CPA and the State Health Plan announced today that they have completed negotiations with UnitedHealthcare for 2019 rates to provide Medicare-eligible retirees with Group Medicare Advantage Plans.
Savings for the Plan, its members, and taxpayers will be approximately $55 million. Treasurer Folwell plans to use part of the savings to freeze and possibly lower family health care premiums for teachers, state employees and other public workers.
“I sincerely appreciate our partnership with UnitedHealthcare that helped achieve this fantastic result," said Folwell. “Executive Director Dee Jones and the State Health Plan team were tenacious negotiators on behalf of retirees and the taxpayers of North Carolina. With these savings, we can possibly lower family premiums for those who teach our children, protect us from crime and pave our roads."
Part of the reason that such favorable rates were negotiated was a reinstatement for 2019 of a moratorium on the health insurance tax that was part of the 2010 Affordable Care Act (ACA). The ACA imposed a fee on each covered entity engaged in the business of providing health insurance in the United States. The Plan's Medicare Advantage Plans are subject to the tax. Congress passed a moratorium on the tax for 2017 but reinstated it for 2018. However, as part of a short-term spending bill signed by President Donald J. Trump in January 2018, the tax was once again suspended for 2019.
Folwell added that the tax needs to be permanently suspended. “I've reached out to the North Carolina congressional delegation as well as the White House," said Folwell. “This 'on again off again' approach is frustrating and time consuming. Congress and the President need to permanently get rid of this burdensome tax that cost the North Carolina State Health Plan over $40 million this year."
The State Health Plan, a division of the N.C. Department of State Treasurer, provides health care coverage to more than 720,000 teachers, state employees, current and former lawmakers, state university and community college personnel and their dependents, including non-Medicare and Medicare retirees.