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Missouri Department of Transportation and Missouri Highway Patrol employees and retirees can expect no changes to health insurance plans in 2022.

The plan approved by the Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission during its Wednesday meeting includes no increases to medical plan premiums, no changes to plan offerings and continued annual employer contributions to health savings accounts for next year.

It's the fifth consecutive year without an increase to medical plan premiums.

MoDOT and MSHP will continue to offer two plan options: the preferred provider organization option with a $600 deductible and the high-deductible health plan with a health savings account option and $1,700 deductible.

As of July, there were 26,674 individuals covered under the medical plan.

Ashley Halford, chairwoman of the medical and life insurance plan board, said 65 percent of those covered are active employees, 25 percent are part of the Medicare population, and the remaining 10 percent are retirees younger than 65 and ineligible for Medicare.

Employer and subscriber contributions to the medical plan have stabilized over the past three years, Halford said.

The working balance is in large part a result of an agreement with Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in 2019 and work done by the medical plan Board of Trustees.

The department's medical plan is governed by a Board of Trustees, consisting of volunteer representatives from MoDOT, the Highway Patrol and retirees from both departments.

Premiums were raised by 8.5 percent in 2018, but commission absorbed the extra costs.

Broken down by percentage, active employees pay 18 percent, and the department pays 82 percent of contributions to the medical plan.

MoDOT Director Patrick McKenna said the 18/82 split in costs is what has allowed the department to reject increases in premiums.

"This was not a stable fund not too long ago," McKenna said. "That change to do cost-share with employees was not an easy thing to do, but it was a necessary thing to do for the overall good and health of the fund itself, and to be able to retain this critical benefit."

Halford said the data also shows MoDOT is benefiting from its Anthem contract.

"They've continued to be a proven strategic leader with us and helped us navigate this last year of a pandemic," Halford said.

As of Aug. 2, there have been 8,524 MoDOT and Highway Patrol employees or retirees who have contracted COVID-19, and COVID-19 claim expenses have totaled $5.2 million, Halford said.

That equals to about 5 percent of total medical expenses for the year, she said.

Holford said the MHTC medical plan offers better premiums and deductibles than other state agencies and is often a selling point for employees.

As MoDOT looks to address staffing issues, Holford said insurance benefits provide stability and peace of mind to employees and retirees.

While an increase in premiums was not suggested this year, Halford said projections could indicate the need for a 6.5 percent increase in premiums for active employees, Medicare retirees and non-Medicare retirees as soon as next year.

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