Monday, April 15, 2024

PEBB Medicare Retiree Plans Face Proposed Premium Increases

PEBB Medicare Retiree Plans Face Proposed Premium Increases

On Thursday, June 29th, the Public Employees Benefits Board (PEBB) met to discuss proposed Medicare plan premium increases for 2024. All available plans to public retirees receiving their healthcare insurance under PEBB are facing increases in premiums, from 3% to an astounding 22%. Although it is typical to see premiums increase year to year, RPEC is particularly concerned about the proposed 22% increase to the Uniform Medical Plan (UMP) Classic Medicare, as just last year RPEC was instrumental in forming a coalition of retiree organizations in efforts to stave off a proposal by PEBB to discontinue the UMP Classic Medicare Plan. This plan, which is PEBB’s most popular plan, offers the most flexibility and treatment coverage for seniors who face a variety of health issues, many being critical and severe.

RPEC Executive Director Laurie Weidner, and members Linnea Mulder (Ch 46), Aruna Bhuta (Ch 13), Carol Dotlich (Ch 12), Amy Fortier (Ch 23), and Sharon Etheridge (Ch 13) among others offered testimony at Thursday’s meeting expressing concerns about the significant premium cost increase of 22%, that when paired with the 20% increase retirees faced in 2023, would add up to 42% in the period of only two years. We wish to thank those members who offered valued testimony.

One of the driving factors for the high percentage premium increases is the ever-rising cost of prescription drugs. RPEC recently took direct action to address this issue by seeking the help of Senator Patty Murray.

Looking forward, RPEC is crafting strategies to pursue increased premium affordability for the 2024 legislative session and with the Congressional delegation. Currently, public retirees receiving healthcare benefits through PEBB receive a Medicare Explicit Subsidy, which subsidizes a member’s monthly premium by $183 or 50%, whichever is less. UMP stakeholders receive the $183 subsidy. RPEC has worked tirelessly in past legislative sessions to get the subsidy increased after it was reduced in 2011 from $183 to $150.  RPEC will again be addressing the issue of the Medicare Explicit Subsidy in the 2024 legislative session. See table below for available PEBB plans and their subsidy to members.

We will continue to provide updates on the progress of the PEBB’s decision on 2024 Medicare Premiums, as well as our efforts in the state legislative and Congressional fronts on this troubling issue.

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