May 19, 2017
Preliminary health plan premium rates for 2018 have been released. These are not final but are the result of negotiations so far between CalPERS and the health plan providers.
In 2017, the Kaiser premiums were virtually unchanged from the previous year. The 2018 rates are expected to increase about 8%. Blue Shield Access+ premiums increased this year and are projected to drop back by about 7.5% to the 2016 rates. Even with those changes, Kaiser premiums in 2018 will still be less than Blue Shield. Again, these rates are preliminary and will not be finalized until June.
The premiums for PERS Choice and PERS Select will vary by about 1%, while PERSCare premiums will drop
Regarding coverage, several plans will expand to additional counties and there will be no withdrawals or reductions in service. In 2018, Western Health Advantage will be added, available in some Bay Area and Northern California counties.
Once the data is finalized, PECG will provide members with the new rates, employee contributions for each plan, changes from the current year, and other information. There will be an open enrollment period in the fall so employees can have the opportunity to make changes to their coverage prior to the new rates going into effect in January.
If you wish to cash out any of your unused vacation or annual leave, you must do so by submitting a written request to your Department before the end of May. Caltrans is allowing up to 40 hours of cashout and most other Departments are permitting up to 80 hours. For those who make the request, cashout payments by the State will be made in June.
Caltrans had notified employees that they must utilize any personal leave resulting from the PLP 2011 program prior to using vacation or annual leave. While this may be true for most employees, it does not apply to Unit 9 employees represented by PECG due to MOU Section 5.14. Caltrans has acknowledged the misinterpretation. Thus, if you wish to use vacation and retain PLP 2011 time you may do so, although PLP 2011 time must be used (not cashed out) before leaving state service.
Senate Bill 1, which authorizes $5.2 billion of additional transportation funding per year, was signed into law by the Governor in late April. In anticipation that Caltrans would need to fill hundreds of additional engineering and other positions in the coming months, PECG asked members to notify us of engineering graduates or others who might be interested in applying for these jobs. More than 700 members responded with names and contact information. As a result, PECG provided information to more than 1,300 potential job applicants regarding the process for applying for the jobs and getting on the hiring lists.
At the moment, it appears that substantial increases in staff will not occur immediately but hundreds of vacant Caltrans positions, plus ongoing attrition, will be filled with new hires. Additional authorization could occur in the coming months. Meanwhile, hundreds of new applicants are on the hiring lists, so there is no shortage of well-qualified candidates.