While we agree with Kentucky teachers and state employees that the state health insurance plan is a mess, laying the blame for the problem at the feet of Gov. Ernie Fletcher is both incorrect and unproductive.
Health insurance premiums for state employees have been rising steadily for at least five years.
As reported earlier this week, a study by the National Conference of State Legislatures shows that the average contribution to monthly premiums by state governments increased nearly 69 percent from 1999 to 2003, while employee contributions rose 56.3 percent. In Kentucky, however, state government contributions rose only 41.4 percent - from $203 a month in 1999 to $287 in 2003 - while employee contributions jumped 170.5 percent - from $200 to $541.
All of the above occurred during the Democratic administration of former Gov. Paul Patton. Yet, suddenly, this problem is all Fletcher's fault? We don't think so.
Furthermore, as premiums have risen, more and more of the state's younger, healthier employees have been opting out of the plan, leaving the state insurance rolls with a disproportionate number of older and "high risk" employees and retirees who use the health-care system more than younger employees.