The Senate will wait for data from Aetna Global before acting on a bill on retirees’ health and insurance plan.
Sen. Justo S. Quitugua (Ind-Saipan) earlier introduced Senate Bill 19-10 to allow retirees to enroll back in the government’s health insurance program anytime they wish to, instead of just within six months after they retire, as mandated by Public Law 15-70.
According to Quitugua, SB 19-10 is expected to benefit some 900 to 1,000 retirees who have opted out of the government’s insurance plan.
The bill was calendared for passing, but due to questions regarding the bill’s possible impact, the Senate will not act on it just yet.
Quitugua said the Department of Finance has been asked to coordinate with Aetna Global regarding this impact. “We will wait for the data from Aetna,” he said.
Quitugua’s colleagues in the Senate earlier commented that the return of retirees who initially opted out of the government insurance might cause premium rates to rise.
Quitugua, however, said this is just one of the reasons, and that there are other reasons, including high cost of medical services and high cost of medicines.
Sen. Teresita A. Santos (R-Rota), chairperson of the Senate Committee on Health and Welfare, said the Department of Finance will “soon” provide the data.
Aetna Global is the insurance provider for government employees until the end of fiscal year 2015 in September.
Sen. Arnold Palacios (R-Saipan) said that retirees going back into the plan will have more health and insurance needs, which in turn might prompt higher rates.
About 3,000 government employees could be affected, according to Senate President Victor B. Hocog (R-Rota).
Hocog added that if the 900 to 1,000 or so retirees are allowed to go back to the government insurance plan, the government needs an additional 500 employees just to keep the rates or lower the rates a bit.
He also said bringing in the 900 to 1,000 retirees on the Aetna insurance “today” might also affect the government to the tune of $1.2 million in additional payments by the end of the fiscal year.
Hocog said one possibility is for the government to bring retirees who previously opted out back to the insurance plan little by little and see what kind of impact this will have.
He said data is needed from Aetna on what will happen to the existing insurance rates if, say, 25, 50, or 100 retirees are brought back in.
Hocog said he understands the noble intent of Quitugua’s bill, but lawmakers would have to be very careful.