Thursday, April 30, 2009

KS State Employees - Read this Now!

KHPA met with the EAC on March 4th to discuss adding electronic components to the State Employee Health Care Plan. Remember, KHPA does cover electronic components to State Medicaid recipients. This discussion is limited to the few State Employees that might require a prosthesis with an electronic component. You can read the memo here. When you read this memo, you'll also get a feel for the issues surrounding prosthetic parity and why we have to pass laws saying prosthetics should be covered like any other medical expense.

They have determined that it would cost the state $500,000 per year to cover electronic components for State Employee amputees. Their actual cost for my C-leg would have been $15,000 so this isn't adding up. If we use the State's predicted cost and divide it by the actual cost, we can assume that there are 33 State employee amputees that meet the qualifications for an electronic prosthesis. As far as I know I am the only squeaky wheel, because I've never heard about another State employee in this same predicament. Even so, let's pretend that there really are 33 eligible amputees employed by the state that are simultaneously prescribed and meet the requirements for an electronic prosthetic component in Year 1, costing the State $500,000. This is the predicted annual cost so in order to meet that requirement, another 33 amputees would have to show up year after year because the components last about 5 years. Catch my drift here? Those 33 would have to show up all in the first year to cost $500,000 and then what? Either another 33 show up the next year to cost the State another $500,000 or we take those figures and spread them out over 5 years for $100,000 a year. Of course, there may be costs for repairs, but we all know that there are not 33 State employee amputees clamoring for electronic components and this number is not going to multiply year after year. Bottom line? Totally bogus.

But, while we're in fantasy land, let's just say that this cost really is $500,000 a year. What would it cost the insured State employees if all the costs were passed on to them in the form of a premium hike?

There are roughly 90,000 State employees so 500/90 = $5.55 a year or 83 cents a month. Or, if we use the more realistic figure of $100,000 a year that's 9 cents a month. The insured State employees would have to pay somewhere between $0.09 - $0.83 a month to cover the cost of electronic prosthetic components for these imaginary 33 State employee amputees.

Just for fun, let's pretend I'm the only amputee in the State asking for the same prosthetic benefits that KHPA provides KS Medicaid recipients? What would I cost each and every KS State employee? The cost of my C-leg would have cost the state $15,000 and it's predicted to last 5 years so that's $3,000 per year. $3,000/90,000 employees = 3 cents per employee per year. Yes, that's what we've spent the last year arguing about - three pennies.

Premium hikes are a sore topic for KS State employees because they've been on the rise and are increasing even more next year, significantly more than $0.83 a year. Oh well, the people making these policies are KS State employees too. I doubt things will change unless a) a KS legislator steps up to the plate b) the federal prosthetic parity bill passes or c) one of these policy makers loses a limb and then comes face-to-face with the issue of parity.