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Study Shows, Even After Limits, Public Employee Benefits Would Be Extremely Generous

Comments | Posted in News | By MacIver Institute | Posted February 16, 2011 9:03 AM

MacIver News Service | February 16, 2011

[Madison, Wisc..] Wisconsin taxpayers would be very generous to state employees even after the proposed budget repair bill passes this week, according to a just released study. The website HCTrends indicates if the proposed changes were to become law, public employees would still pay less toward their family health insurance premium than most other Midwestern states and the vast majority of large employers in Southeastern Wisconsin.

Currently, Wisconsin state employees pay less than 5 percent of the premium cost for family coverage (4.35 percent for union employees and 4.96 percent for non?union employees). That’s lower than the 6.2 percent they paid in 2009, when Wisconsin’s employee contribution was the second?lowest among Midwest states for family coverage.

Republican Governor Scott Walker has proposed raising the employee share of health insurance premiums to 12.4 percent, however even after the additional contribution, the contribution rate would still be less than the 2009 Midwest average for state government employees.

Moreover, the new rate would also be less than the employee contributions required at 85 percent of large Milwaukee?area employers.

The proposed changes would cost the average state employee an additional $1,560 per year for family coverage, but the amount they would pay ($2,496) would still be significantly less than the $3,875 average premium contribution at large private?sector employers in southeastern Wisconsin.

"State employees will also continue to get much more for their money than their private sector counterparts," the study reads. "The state plan offers more benefits, lower deductibles, co-pays and out of pocket maximums than the average private sector plan."

HCTrends reviewed data from the Wisconsin Department of Employee Trust Funds, the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) and the HCTrends Greater Milwaukee Health Care Benefits Survey.

The NCSL data was used to compare Wisconsin state employee benefits with eight other Midwestern states: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri and Ohio. The HCTrends employer survey data was used to compare Wisconsin state plan costs and design with private?sector employers in southeastern Wisconsin.

The study can be found, here.