State employees may have to pay more from their own pockets next year to pay for health care.

The Public Employees Insurance Agency Finance Board voted Tuesday to increase rates.

The new rate plan would cost most state employees hundreds of dollars more annually in premiums. The plan would go into effect next July.

PEIA Director Tom Susman says the increases are necessary to meet state mandates and skyrocketing prescription drug costs.

Board members attempted to soften the blow by basing the new rates on salary. The wealthiest employees would pay the biggest part of the increase, while those lower on the income scale would pay a little less

. Families would pay on average an additional $26 a month for coverage. Singles would pay $6.50 more a month on average.

The plan will now go to Governor Bob Wise to be included in his budget proposal for the next fiscal year.

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