teacher insurance

FILE — Graciella Hernandez, a third-grade teacher at Barge-Lincoln Elementary School, rolls up a map while preparing her classroom for her first day of school on Aug. 18, 2018.

The state board overseeing the rollout of a school employee benefits program in January finalized health insurance plans and premiums last week, ensuring an employee contribution range for Yakima participants of $13 to $98, depending on the plan.

The new state health insurance system will fully cover any K-12 school employee who works at least 630 hours a year.

The School Employee Benefits Board approved several health insurance premiums in late July, and on Thursday finalized plans and premiums offered through Premera Blue Cross.

Plan availability varies based on the county an employee lives in. In Yakima, two Premera plans, three Kaiser Permanente WA plans and four Uniform Medical Plan options are available. One, UMP Plus, was previously created specifically for state employees and is offered through Regence.

Yakima options range in cost from $13 for a single employee to $98 per month. Full family coverage ranges between $39 a month and $294.

Dental, vision and basic life and long-term disability premiums will be entirely covered by the employer.

Detailed information on plans, premiums and enrollment will be sent out to school employees

by mail in mid-September. The same information will be sent to school districts for new employees to access.

Similar information will also be posted to the state Health Care Authority website by Sept. 3, said David Iseminger, director of the state body’s employees and retirees benefits division.

“Open enrollment begins Oct. 1,” he said. “We’re really hopeful that people will utilize the online enrollment system, because there will be some tutorials and some tools available for people to help (them) navigate and understand their various plan options.”

Employee contributions are kept low by a negotiation to have employers pay 85 percent of a standard plan offered statewide for $653, making the employer contribution $555 regardless of which plan an employee chooses.

But districts are set to pay an actual rate of $1,056 per employee for the 2019-20 school year as approved by the Legislature, which is intended to balance out the cost of family plans. Family plan costs were capped at three times the cost of a single employee before premiums were sealed.

Reach Janelle Retka at jretka@yakimaherald.com or on Twitter: @janelleretka