Officials with the state Personnel Cabinet updated lawmakers Thursday on the cost of public employees’ health insurance for 2020.

Personnel Secretary Thomas Stephens and Employee Insurance Commissioner Jenny Goins told the Interim Joint State Government Committee that the Kentucky Employees Health Plan serves 180,040 active employees and early retirees (those under 65 years of age), affecting 292,703 people, or 6.6% of Kentucky’s population. The plan has been self-insured since 2006 and will spend $1.9 billion in the coming year.

Nineteen percent of the plan's membership are in state agencies, 24% are early retirees, 5% work for quasi-government organizations (such as health departments) and the largest group, 52%, are school board employees.

Goins told the panel that there will be a slight increase in premiums next year. 

“The highest premium increase for employees is less than $20 per month, and that is if you are on the Living Well PPO family plan,” she said. "We do have small increases of $250 for deductibles and $250 for the maximum out-of-pocket expenses.”

Goins also said, “The IRS raised the maximum contribution into a health care flexible spending account to $2,700, so we are raising that also. That’s a huge benefit to our members to be able to put money into a flexible spending account. That’s your money — pretax dollars that you can then use for your health care deductibles, co-insurance, eyeglasses, going to the dentist — any health care-related item, you can use that.”

She also noted that unlike private employer health insurance, the public employers pay 84% of the actual health insurance costs, on average.

Also appearing before the committee were Laura Hendrix, executive director of the Legislative Ethics Commission, and Anthony Wilhoit, the commission chair, to talk about proposed changes to the Legislative Ethics Code, which were recommended by a vote of the commission members and require approval by lawmakers.

They include:

• Creating a comprehensive ban on sexual harassment, workplace harassment and discrimination, specifically defining what actions violate Kentucky or federal statutes, regulations or case law.

• Allowing dismissal of complaints via teleconference of the commission. This would address, for example, when a frivolous complaint is filed during an election campaign for political purposes and allow the commission to wrap up those cases between full commission meetings.

• Allowing the Legislative Ethics Commission to continue adjudicating a complaint against a legislator, even after he or she resigns, for up to a year. The same would apply to complaints against lobbyists.

• Reducing the ethics training seminar from three hours to two during the first week of each General Assembly session. The commission believes two hours is enough time.

• Clarifying that any alleged violation of the Ethics Code can continue to be adjudicated by the commission, even if it is designated as a misdemeanor or felony criminal act.

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