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State health insurance program sees surplus

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – While Florida’s budget has taken a hit during the COVID-19 pandemic, state economists have delivered some good news.

The state employee health-insurance trust fund, which pays health-care costs for 365,729 state employees and their families, had a $649.3 million cash balance at the June 30 end of the 2019-2020 fiscal year.

Additionally, the cash-balance surplus is projected to be $712.2 million at the end of the current 2020-2021 fiscal year.

The $649.3 million cash balance is about $140 million more than what had been previously projected.

According to an executive summary, the Division of State Group Health Insurance noticed a reduction in expenses of medical claims and an increase in prescription-drug expenses in April, May and June. The reduction in claims was assumed to be a result of fewer doctor visits and elective procedures during the pandemic. Early in the period, Gov. Ron DeSantis halted non-elective procedures to try to conserve equipment and hospital beds to deal with COVID-19 patients. The increase in prescription-drug costs was attributed to people refilling prescriptions for longer periods due to stay-at-home orders and exposure concerns. 

Economists previously predicted that the trust fund would be insolvent beginning in the 2021-2022 fiscal year. The trust fund is now expected to remain solvent through the 2022-2023 fiscal year. It is projected, however, to have an $82 million deficit during the 2023-2024 fiscal year. That deficit is expected to balloon to  $763.9 million in fiscal year 2024-2025. 

Economists expect enrollment among active state employees to increase by less than 1% for the next five years.