K-12 health insurance deal may not rein in costs

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OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) -- Washington state lawmakers have approved changes to health insurance benefits for K-12 school employees that will improve transparency and help those who pay the most for coverage but may not bring down costs.

The measure was one of the policy bills that Republicans and a handful of conservative Senate Democrats insisted upon passing before taking up the budget, which moved out of the Legislature early Wednesday morning.

The bills await the governor's signature.

Whereas an earlier K-12 health insurance overhaul plan would have consolidated workers under a single entity run by the state's Health Care Authority, the new rules keep the 295 school districts in charge until at least 2016.

The Authority estimated consolidation would cost $22 million upfront and save $20 to $25 million annually by sidelining insurance brokers.