House Bill 3053, authored by Speaker Kris Steele, R-Shawnee, and Senator Kim David, R-Wagoner, is on its way to Governor Mary Fallin’s desk. HB 3053 sets the benefit allowance for state employees at the 2012 allowance or the HealthChoice Standard option, whichever is greater. The savings to the state budget of freezing the benefit allowance would be approximately $25 million, based on past growth of the benefit allowance. The savings would continue at $25 million per year over the next three to four years.
Currently, the benefit allowance is set by calculating the average of the high option health insurance plans available to state employees, plus the average of all the dental plans, plus basic life and disability. If the high option plans are eliminated and not included in the benefit allowance calculation, an individual employee’s benefit allowance could decrease approximately $130 per month, and a family of four could lose as much as $380 per month. Freezing the benefit allowance will allow it to wear away gradually, until it equals cost of the basic plan.
“This could seriously affect family budgets of employees who have not received a pay increase since 2006,” Zearley said. “OPEA has worked on this bill very diligently, and we are happy to see it move forward to the governor’s desk.”