Last week, a flyer announcing the May 2016 Benefit Choice Period was mailed from the State of Illinois Central Management Services (CMS), which administers health coverage for state employees. It included information, at the bottom of page 5, about the possibility that U of I employees would be required to pay retroactive increases to their insurance premiums, depending on the outcome of an on-going legal dispute pending before the Illinois Labor Relations Board. The potential retroactive costs are unknown at this time and will remain unknown during the Benefit Choice period you have to select your health plan.
It is CMS’s position that because of the pending legal dispute between the state and the state AFSCME bargaining unit, premium rates effective July 1, 2016, cannot be finalized. Therefore, the information from CMS about the premium rate structure contains current (fiscal year 2016) premium information, not the expected revised costs for fiscal 2017. The CMS information also advises you that upon resolution of the legal dispute, premium increases could be applied retroactively to July 1, 2016. It is unknown when a decision by the labor board will be issued, it could be several months into the new fiscal year. While still unknown, media reports suggest that employee-paid premiums may increase significantly for fiscal 2017.
The State has proposed introducing additional plans once the legal dispute is resolved. The details of those plans and their corresponding premiums are also unknown. It is likely that a second Benefit Choice period would be conducted if and when those plans are introduced.
Through the Office of Governmental Relations, the University has asked that the State reconsider its position to collect retroactive premiums and instead only begin charging any new premiums after a second Benefit Choice period. This would be after employees could consider the full range of new plans and any associated new costs.
We urge you to read all CMS materials closely and we will keep you advised of any updates.