State reaches tentative agreement with school employees on health care funding

Thu, 12/13/2018

The Washington State Office of Financial Management (OFM) and a coalition representing the state’s school employees have reached a tentative agreement for funding school employee benefits, starting in 2020. The agreement was reached on September 6, 2018. If the Legislature votes to fund the agreement in its 2019–21 budget, the agreement will go into effect on July 1, 2019.

OFM released the details of the tentative agreement on November 15, 2018.

A major component of the agreement is the employer medical contribution — the amount that the employer will pay toward eligible employees’ medical benefits. The employer medical contribution will be an amount equal to 85 percent of the monthly premium for the self-insured Uniform Medical Plan Achieve 2 plan.

OFM and the coalition also agreed that:

  • The monthly rates for employees covering a spouse, state-registered domestic partner or children will be calculated using the SEBB Program’s 3:1 tier ratio.
  • Employers will contribute 100 percent of the premium costs for dental and vision insurance.
  • Employers will contribute 100 percent of the K-12 remittance for retirees.
  • Employers will contribute the same amount, per month, for all employees anticipated to work 630 hours or more.
  • The employee contribution for medical benefits will never be less than 2 percent of the employer contribution.
  • Employees enrolled in SEBB Program benefits who register with the SmartHealth wellness program can earn incentives by completing a well-being assessment and other activities.
  • Benefit allocation factors (BAF) of 1.02 for certificated employees and 1.43 for classified employees were set. The state will provide insurance benefit funding based on allocated full-time equivalents multiplied by the BAF.
  • The state will collect monthly surcharges from employees who use, or have a dependent on their account who uses, tobacco ($25) and from employees whose spouses or state-registered domestic partners enroll in the SEBB Program and choose not to enroll in another employer-based health plan with benefits and premiums substantially similar to UMP Classic ($50).

Starting January 1, 2020, employees at Washington State’s 295 school districts, nine educational service districts and 13 charter schools will receive their health insurance and other benefits through the School Employees Benefits Board (SEBB) Program. The SEBB Program was created when the Legislature passed Engrossed House Bill 2242. The program is administered by the Washington State Health Care Authority (HCA), which also administers health insurance and other benefits for state employees and retirees through its Public Employees Benefits Board (PEBB) Program.

The School Employees Benefits Board (SEB Board) is currently in the process of designing and approving insurance benefit plans, and passed 18 resolutions on benefits and eligibility at its November 8, 2018 meeting. Visit the SEB Board’s webpage for the latest meeting information.