NJEA statement on SEHBP rate-setting process

NJEA has made the following statement regarding significant concerns about the Division of Pensions and Benefits’ handling of the rate-setting process for the SEHBP this year:

“Like others, we are very concerned about the large rate increases being discussed for the state’s health benefits programs. While the proposed rate increase for the SEHBP that serves our members is much lower than the proposed increase for the SHBP, it is still large enough to demand careful scrutiny.

“Unfortunately, it has been very difficult for NJEA’s representatives School Employees’ Health Benefits Commission (SEHBC) to do their due diligence on this issue due to lack of information and transparency from the actuaries and the Division of Pensions and Benefits. Despite requesting additional information several weeks ago, they still lack the data needed to understand the rationale for such a large proposed increase. That is an ongoing problem that needs to be rectified.

“Given the unusual circumstances of the last two-and-a-half years, it is imperative that the Commissioners understand in detail why the state’s actuaries have made their recommendation and how they arrived at that conclusion.

“For example, we do not know how much of the cost in previous years is attributable to COVID-related expenses that may be very different in the coming year. To the extent that COVID-19 and related factors were drivers of unusually high recent costs for the plans, we call on the state to use available COVID funding to mitigate the impact of any proposed increase on both individuals and employers and to ensure that high quality health care in New Jersey remains affordable and accessible.

“Until the Division of Pensions and Benefits provides the information our SEHBC representatives have requested, the Commissioners will not have the tools they need to carry out their duties. We will continue to hold the Division accountable for providing that information so that NJEA members have the representation they deserve on this process.”