West Virginia government and public school employees covered by Public Employees Insurance Agency health insurance can anticipate one-half percent across-the-board premium increases — with more substantial hikes for many employees — along with changes in pharmaceutical coverage, under a proposed 2018-19 benefits plan.

However, the plan proposes some significant fundamental changes to PEIA, including shrinking the 10 salary-based premium tiers to three tiers, and including the spouse's income to determine premium tier, if the spouse is covered by PEIA.

"There are some winners and there are some losers under this environment," PEIA Executive Director Ted Cheatham said of the proposed benefits package. "The goal here is to take this out, saying this is the concept, and to ask for feedback from the public."

Retirees and nonstate employees covered by PEIA would see 2 percent premium increases.

West Virginia Education Association President Dale Lee is critical of the plan, saying annual drip, drip, drip in benefit cuts is taking a toll on state and public school employees, and on retirees.

"We used to say, 'We know your salary is low, but your benefits are good,' " he said, "but each year, the benefits continue to erode."

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