NJ school employees get new mental-health benefit

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — More than 200,000 school employees in New Jersey are going to get new options in their health plans.

Gov. Chris Christie announced the results Friday from a committee made up of state management and labor representatives.

Members of the School Employees Health Benefit Program and their dependents who suffer from non-biologically-based mental illness will be covered in the same way as those with biologically-based conditions that are already covered. Christie said the plan continues his commitment to helping people with mental illnesses and substance-abuse disorders.

Employees and their spouses also can participate in an incentive-based wellness program that rewards participants with gift cards up to $250 for joining exercise programs, participating in medical screenings and education programs and developing positive action plans.

The committee also approved two new health plan options that will carry higher copays and deductibles but could reduce employees’ premium costs by up to 15 percent compared to the lowest cost plan currently offered.

The new health plan options will take effect in Plan Year 2014.

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