Many taxpayers whose households don’t rely on a government of Guam paycheck have a general idea they’re helping shoulder the burden of paying the health insurance of GovGuam’s approximately 12,000 health plan members.

But for exactly how much Guam taxpayers will be on the hook to pay GovGuam health insurance this year remains unknown. Even after GovGuam chose Aetna International – recently acquired by pharmaceutical giant CVS Health – to provide the 2020 health insurance plan for GovGuam’s retirees, employees and their dependents, the public hasn’t been given the courtesy of at least an estimate of the cost.

The exact figure won’t be available until after the open enrollment period ends. Open enrollment will take place between Sept. 23 and Oct. 12.

In previous budget years, however, and as part of the budget process, GovGuam, even before (or right after) the selection of health plan contractors, was more transparent about the estimated cost.

In fiscal 2017, GovGuam paid $76 million. This year’s estimates have varied from $80 million to $90 million. The requirement, as part of Guam law, that GovGuam’s health insurer must include coverage at the private hospital Guam Regional Medical City will not be free of charge.

Taxpayers have been paying a hefty price to insure GovGuam employees, dependents and retirees. A report released by the Office of Public Accountability last year states GovGuam – and by extension taxpayers – paid 79% of the $347 million cost of GovGuam’s health insurance program over four years, through fiscal 2017.

In contrast, the private sector’s employees and managers are on their own. GovGuam doesn’t help. The employees and managers in the private sector can consider themselves lucky if their employers shoulder more than 50% of the health insurance premium. And workers who hold part-time jobs in stores, restaurants and hotels are lucky if they can get some semblance of health insurance through their jobs.

Shifting GovGuam from multiple health insurance companies to just one, Aetna International, is expected to ease the cost. That was the idea of the law requiring the government to choose only one health insurance provider.

However, some under GovGuam’s health plan want more. In recent days, many of them have signed a petition to give them a choice of insurers. 

We, the taxpayers, can’t have those we’ve hired to serve us continue to add costs that we will ultimately carry on our backs. If a single health insurance provider saves costs, then GovGuam members shouldn’t be asking for more – especially at the expense of the rest of us.

If GovGuam members want something better and more expensive, they should pay for it out of their own pockets.

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