Few Legislators Use New Law to Opt Out of State Health Insurance

  • Joe Wertz

Oklahoma House of Representatives

Rep. Dustin Roberts, R-Durant, authored a bill designed to save the state money by allowing legislators to opt out of state health insurance. Most, including Roberts, have not opted out, the Tulsa World reported.

A bill signed into law last year allows legislators to opt out of Oklahoma’s state health insurance program.

House Bill 1062 was designed to save the state money, but the Tulsa Worldcalled, emailed and used social media” to contact lawmakers over a two-week period and found that only a “handful” had signed up.

The bill’s author, state Rep. Dustin Roberts, R-Durant, did not opt out. Neither did the bill’s principal Senate sponsor, Sen. Josh Brecheen, R-Coalgate.

Wayne Greene reports:

Only three legislators — all of whom are retired military employees who are eligible for federal insurance coverage — said they had opted out.

Three lawmakers refused to answer the question and 11 never responded to multiple requests for information over a two-week period. Some 130 lawmakers said they decided to stay on the state health insurance program.

The bill (click here to read the full text) was originally written to allow legislators to opt out of the state health insurance program, and any savings would be directed back to the state. During the legislative session, the bill was changed to allow any state employee to opt out if they had an affidavit proving they had health coverage elsewhere, the World reported.

Under the law, those employees will each receive $150 a month from the state, but the state saves at least $5,891.76 in actual costs, Brian King, spokesman for the Oklahoma Employee Benefits Council told the paper.

According to the World, 91 employees opted out, which saved the state at least $532,150. Citing federal privacy laws, King refused to tell the paper how many legislators were among the 91.