While Florida’s budget has taken a hit during the COVID-19 pandemic, state economists have delivered some good news.
The state employee health insurance trust fund, which pays health care costs for 365,729 state employees and their families, had a $649.3 million cash balance at the June 30 end of the 2019-20 fiscal year.
Additionally, the cash-balance surplus is projected to be $712.2 million at the end of the current 2020-2021 fiscal year.
The $649.3 million cash balance is about $140 million more than what had been previously projected.
According to an executive summary, the Division of State Group Health Insurance noticed a reduction in expenses of medical claims and an increase in prescription drug expenses in April, May and June.
The reduction in claims was assumed to be a result of fewer doctor visits and elective procedures during the pandemic.
Early in the period, Gov. Ron DeSantis halted non-elective procedures to try to conserve equipment and hospital beds to deal with COVID-19 patients.
The increase in prescription drug costs was attributed to people refilling prescriptions for longer periods due to stay-at-home orders and exposure concerns.
Economists previously predicted that the trust fund would be insolvent beginning in the 2021-22 fiscal year. The trust fund is now expected to remain solvent through the 2022-23 fiscal year. It is projected, however, to have an $82 million deficit during the 2023-24 fiscal year. That deficit is expected to balloon to $763.9 million in fiscal year 2024-25.
Economists expect enrollment among active state employees to increase by less than 1 percent for the next five years.