Audit calls for changes to save on state health care for workers

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) – An audit found that health care costs for Vermont state employees skyrocketed between 2010 and 2019, calling for changes to save money.

The report released Friday by state auditor Doug Hoffer found that the cost of annual reimbursement for state employees, retirees and their families rose 51% from $ 94 million to $ 142 million during that time, the Burlington reported Free press.

One reason for the increase was that different healthcare providers charged different amounts for the same treatment.

“The price difference paid for exactly the same health procedures under the state health plan for workers is appalling, especially since higher prices do not necessarily mean higher quality,” Hoffer said in a statement.

The reports suggest that the state is moving to reference-based prices, where the state sets a maximum price it would pay for each service instead of paying the price negotiated by the health care provider and insurance company. Hoffer said this could save the state $ 16.3 million annually.

A second suggestion is to provide public servants, retirees and their families with information on care costs and a financial incentive for them to take advantage of cheaper options. The report forecast this could save $ 202,000 annually if implemented for seven specific services.

“When government employees and their families are cared for by the most expensive health care providers, often without knowing it, it increases the cost of health care for patients, the state and taxpayers,” said Hoffer.

He urged the governor and the state legislature to act on the results of the report.

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