cur-mud-geon: anyone who hates hypocrisy and pretense and has the temerity to say so; anyone with the habit of pointing out unpleasant facts in an engaging and humorous manner
Today we'll explore the WEAC insurance companies called WEA Insurance Group.
The WEA Insurance Group is composed of five organizations:
WEA Insurance Trust
WEA Insurance Corporation
WEA Tax Sheltered Annuity Trust
WEAC Member Benefit Trust
WEA Property & Casualty Insurance Company
These organizations are used to provide coverages such as health insurance, dental insurance, long term disability insurance, long term care insurance, automobile insurance, homeowners insurance and tax-sheltered annuities.
This is a spectacular picture from the WEA Trust that was created in 1970 with initial capitalization of $5,000 that was provided by WEAC. By 1977, this Trust had become the thirteenth largest health insurer in Wisconsin. By 1989, it employed 140 people, and now employs some 500 people and serves over 200,000 public school employees and family members.
It, as is its parent, is the 800 lb. gorilla so far as insurers providing coverage to school districts in Wisconsin. It takes pride in the ways in which it developed new coverages for its members and in its record of few member complaints.
Among the breakthroughs it claims credit for are these:
The trust was the first in the state to offer a disability plan that replaced 90% of a disabled employee's income. (Typical insurance policies offer up to two-thirds of the employee's compensation to encourage those who are able to return to work as soon as possible, and to help hold insurance premium cost down for employers.)
The Trust was the first insurer in Wisconsin to cover transplants as a standard benefit. (Such breakthroughs have had to add costs to these plans that caused increases in premiums to employers. Most insurers were hesitant to offer such coverage unless and until forced to do so by state mandate since they would've been priced uncompetitively with other insurers.)
The Trust health plan covered psychiatric and chiropractic services "long before the law required insurance companies to offer such benefits". (Again, we see marketplace differentiation that made it nearly impossible for other insurers to compete for school district business while it made the employers pay more due to these increased levels of service.)
We discussed Jane Doe's coverage cost to the district in a recent Blog. Jane's cost to the district was $19,279 during the most recent school year, and she paid another 3% of the premium from her pocket as her contribution toward that cost. Given the coming school year and plan changes that have been made by WEA Insurance Trust, the cost to the district for the most comparable program will go up to some $22,400 for an increase of about 16% in its cost. (This is contrasted with an average increase in Wisconsin for other employers of about 4% this year according to a survey by the Mercer consulting firm released today.)
That same announcement based on the Mercer survey pointed out that $1,000 deductibles are now commonplace across America. I would be amazed if a single school district in Wisconsin could be identified that has such a deductible in place. Premium sharing by employees is often done on a 25%-75% or a 50%-50% basis in Wisconsin's workplaces, but in Jane's case there is a 3%-97% sharing arrangement. It is not at all uncommon for employees of firms with fewer than 50 employees to have no health insurance coverage provided by their employer today. That percentage is in the range of 50% to 60% in Wisconsin today.
WEA Insurance Trust points to its success with the following statistics:
Health plan enrollment was 138,024 for 2007, or 71% of eligible school districts.
Dental plan enrollment was 149,961 for 2007, or 78% of eligible school districts.
Long term disability enrollment was 60,063 for 2007, or 75% of eligible school districts.
Life plan enrollment was 36,237 for 2007, or 46% of eligible school districts.
Long term care enrollment was 21,251 in 2007, or 23% of eligible school districts.
This is what the insurance industry calls "penetration" of a marketplace, and it points to the dominance that WEAC has in negotiating on behalf of its insurance companies. I have spoken with people who have attempted to compete against the WEAC/WEA Insurance Trust insurance programs. They have made presentations to Boards showing significant decreases with relatively little in the way of plan benefit reductions and few are ever successful in getting the business. The union dominates this world. Some question why the teachers would permit this to happen since the premium costs impact their pay due to the QEO rules, but I suspect any teacher who would voice his or her concern might feel uncomfortable in his or her peer group as the result. And, it is great if you're in the cat bird's seat with the 'Cadillac' coverage.
If you read yesterday's piece, you may've noted that WEAC has universal health care as one of its legislative goals. That would be great since they could then shift costs to all the state's citizens instead of just to those citizens in a district they provide coverage for. And, most interesting of all is this overlooked fact: WEAC had already obtained favorable treatment for its members in the Healthy Wisconsin program that was defeated last year. Universal health care is great but they must still have better coverage for their members...and the party in control of state government was willing to cause that to happen.
Some have questioned the people costs of a school district but this kind of information helps us better understand where some of those costs originate.