Copyright 2010 ProQuest Information and LearningAll Rights ReservedProQuest SuperTextCopyright 2010 The Journal-Gazette Fort Wayne Journal Gazette
July 14, 2010 Wednesday Final Edition
METRO; Pg. 3C
Health care audit taxing state employees
Niki Kelly, Niki Kelly The Journal Gazette
State employees are gathering marriage records, birth certificates and tax returns to prove their spouses and children are eligible to be on the state health insurance plan.
The verification audit for dependent eligibility began last week, and employees must provide documentation by July 30 or risk losing health coverage for their dependents.
“The big thing is the budget. We’re looking at ways to cut costs, and that includes all avenues,” said Pegg Warnick, communications director for the State Personnel Department. “We believe that taxpayers should only pay for those who are eligible.”
In May, the state hired Chicago-based Aon Consulting to conduct the audit at a cost of $300,111. Aon was one of 11 entities, including several Indiana companies, to respond to a request for information from the state.
A final report on Aon’s findings is due Nov. 1. Based on previous Aon audits of New Jersey and Virginia and such companies as Harrah’s casinos, between 4 percent and 8 percent of dependents might be declared ineligible.
Warnick said eliminating those dependents from the state health plan could save $6.4 million a year.
According to the contract, there are more than 34,000 dependents with state medical coverage, almost 22,000 on the dental plan and more than 18,000 on the vision plan.
The audit has frustrated some.
“It was a horrible little matter,” said Rep. Win Moses, D-Fort Wayne, who had to go to his bank lockbox to retrieve his marriage certificate for the process. “There are so many nuisances in life, but if it helps them clarify their records then it’s probably best for everyone on the plan.”
Warnick said common examples of ineligibility are recently divorced spouses and children too old to be dependents.
She said most are likely innocent mistakes, but such changes of status are required to be reported within 30 days.
If dependents are found to be ineligible, they will immediately lose coverage, Warnick said. Employees could be disciplined if intentional fraud is found.
Criminal charges have been filed against two state employees after investigations by the state inspector general.
Both involved Department of Correction employees – one in Marion County and the other in LaPorte County – who enrolled their boyfriend and girlfriend despite not being married.
In the LaPorte case, the state paid more than $8,000 in benefits over an 18-month period.
Warnick said employees have had lots of questions – and a few complaints – about the process so far. One concern has been the requirement to provide the first page of a person’s most recent tax return.
She said this is necessary to establish marital status, but noted the employee is allowed to black out income data.
“Currently there is no requirement that you verify dependents when you sign on as an employee, so it could be taken advantage of,” said Rep. Jeff Espich, R-Uniondale. “I think it’s an appropriate effort.
“No one will be denied coverage who is eligible. But if they are not, the taxpayers should not be paying.”
July 15, 2010