Auditor: State employee health insurance is costly

By:  Kelly Sommariva

State Auditor Mike Foley says Nebraska is wasting millions of dollars with its current healthcare plan.  An audit shows some people getting benefits aren't even state employees.

Up, up and away.. that's where state employees' monthly healthcare premiums are going, according to the state auditor.  

“Even when you average out employee cost our state premiums are far too high.”

A report released by Mike Foley says Nebraska state employees pay about $800 more per month than the national average. Why is our state's plan the costliest in the country?  Foley says for one— it's not monitored well.

According to his report more than a million dollars in benefits were paid to people who weren't even eligible in 2010.

“They've got to do a better job of tracking who's in the plan. We can't have state employees quitting their jobs going to the private sector or wherever and continue to walk around with Blue Cross card and Prescription Drug card and that's costing us a half a million dollars right off the bat. We should be able to fix that,” says Foley.

Also, administrative costs are sky high—more than 9 million a year.

The audit also found the state carries millions in unnecessary insurance… And keeps their cash reserve fund way too high.. Something state legislators say they'll look into.

“I'm a fiscal conservative and I can't imagine that we've allowed this much money to be spent in areas or money taken from an employee and put into these areas so there will be some action taken by our committee,” says Sen. Bob Krist of Omaha.

The bottom line, Foley says we're using an inefficient, outdated plan, that's costing state employees and taxpayers millions of dollars.

“If we make some plan design changes and other changes and administrative and monitoring we can drive down the cost my many millions of dollars.”

As for those people who appear to have been getting benefits who were not state employees, Foley says those cases will be handed over to attorney general Jon Bruning to decide if any charges will be filed.