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Health insurance changes coming for state workers

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ATLANTA — Private-sector employees affected by the federal health care overhaul won’t be the only ones seeing changes in their insurance Jan. 1. The half-million state workers, retirees, teachers and school workers will also see their coverage revised.

State officials boast that premiums are being held in place, but some
critics complain that they’ll still be paying more out of pocket because of limits on coverage.

“The main message that we want to convey – and we’re trying to convey – is for most members the premiums will stay the same or go down,” said Pam Keene, a spokeswoman for the Department of Community Health, which oversees the State Health Benefit Plan.

One key way to hold premiums down, she said Monday, was the department’s decision to contract with just one administrator for employees outside of metro Atlanta.

Traditionally, employees had a choice between two insurers. Though they both offered the same plans, each had its own network of doctors and hospitals.

The department still plans to have two insurance companies administering claims in the Atlanta area.

Rep. Ben Harbin, R-Evans,
said he’s gotten calls from teachers and state workers complaining about the lack of choice.

“People are going to have to change doctors, possibly hospitals, because people don’t have a choice, and it’s a decision made by some bureaucrat in Atlanta instead of families around the kitchen table,” he said.

The company administering the plan next year, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Georgia, says it has agreements with all but one hospital in the state and one of the largest physician networks.

“Pretty much anyone should be able to stay with their current providers,” company spokesman Bert Kelly said.

The number of administrators is less of a concern to the Georgia State Retirees Association than the reduced coverage, said its treasurer, BJ Bennett.

“I take real issue with the statement that the premiums are not going to go up for employees,” she said.

Comparing the current plans to next year’s alterations to reflect federal health-reform requirements is complicated, Bennett admits. But her analysis shows that since 2011, the maximum out-of-pocket expense for deductibles and coinsurance has doubled in some cases. And what employees and retirees pay for prescription medicines no longer count toward their maximum.

Bennett sees only one solution, convincing elected officials to pitch in more taxpayer money to subsidize the employee premiums rather than using it for education, jobs, tax breaks or other policy options.

“The governor and the legislature would have to have some heat on them,” she said. “As long as there’s not a lot of heat, they’re going to put the money where they want to put it.”

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dickworth1
954
Points
dickworth1 09/09/13 - 09:38 pm
10
3
Be thankful
Unpublished

Most private sector jobs do not offer choices of the company insurance, but it seems like people that work for local, state and federal governments feel like they are better than the private sector which helps pay the bills via taxes. Be thankful you have a job and benefits and let it be known that everyone is going to pay for obamacare. It is what it is!

Graymare
3620
Points
Graymare 09/10/13 - 05:25 am
10
1
Know the facts first

What good is it to pay for healthcare if you can't afford to use it? The state yearly deductibles and the office and pharmacy copays are so high some folks can't afford to go to the doctor. Not everyone who falls under the state umbrella makes big money.

flcracker
137
Points
flcracker 09/10/13 - 06:23 am
5
0
insurance changing

I'm one of those state employees. I have had a HRA plan with United Healthcare for the past 3 1/2 years and I haven't had a single problem! Blue Cross Blue Shield is notorious for not wanting to pay claims (even preventative claims that are supposed to be paid by them 100%). After I gave birth to my son BCBS refused to pay for my postpartum checkup! My doctor's office fought with them for months before BCBS finally paid it. No one is my office is looking forward to this move. It also looks like my monthly premium (which is taken out of my paycheck) will be going up again.

soapy_725
43949
Points
soapy_725 09/10/13 - 07:22 am
0
0
AHC is just another masive federal tax without representation
Unpublished

AHC is just another masive federal tax without representation

Marinerman1
5300
Points
Marinerman1 09/10/13 - 07:28 am
4
1
Why Is Atlanta Special ??

I just want to know what makes Atlanta special, whereby they still get a choice? Like flcracker, my wife and I have been with United Healthcare for several years. The one thing we can be thankful for is that while we are down to a single payer system, it is not the piece of yak-squeeze called ObamaCare.

mosovich
832
Points
mosovich 09/10/13 - 07:43 am
4
0
Great statement here...

"Bennett sees only one solution, convincing elected officials to pitch in more taxpayer money to subsidize the employee premiums rather than using it for education, jobs, tax breaks or other policy options."

So take money out of education and job production?? Yeah, that's smart thinking there.. I agree with tax breaks and other fluff, but education isn't one of the areas money needs to be taken from... Obviously she wasn't a school teacher..

john
1158
Points
john 09/10/13 - 07:54 am
6
1
ha

isnt affordable heallthcare great??

Young Fred
19382
Points
Young Fred 09/10/13 - 08:21 am
5
1
Weasel words: "Pretty much

Weasel words: "Pretty much anyone should be able..."

rmwhitley
5547
Points
rmwhitley 09/10/13 - 08:37 am
0
0
I just
Unpublished

wish obama and the democrats would get waylayed in Damascus while assad is having one of his fits.

justthefacts
24003
Points
justthefacts 09/10/13 - 08:51 am
8
1
Well

“No matter what you’ve heard, if you like your doctor or health care plan, you can keep them.” President Obama said so.

nocnoc
47190
Points
nocnoc 09/10/13 - 09:32 am
9
2
For you Liberals

Remember you can keep your present insurance and still see your current Doctor. Nothing will change, only 15 Million uncovered people will get Medical care insurance.
☺☺☺☺☺☺☺☺☺☺☺☺☺☺☺☺☺☺☺☺☺☺☺

A verbatim quote from President Obama from July of 2009, touting the legislative perfection that would be Obamacare:

“If you like your doctor, you will be able to keep your doctor. Period. If you like your health care plan, you will be able to keep your health care plan. Period. No one will take it away. No matter what.”

OPPS,,,,, Maybe he needs to read the plans to know whats in it.

Dixieman
16579
Points
Dixieman 09/10/13 - 09:38 am
8
2
Two things:

1. If you support Obamacare, you should have to enroll in it. Eat your own cooking.
2. We are all doomed!

Fiat_Lux
16243
Points
Fiat_Lux 09/10/13 - 09:59 am
7
1
I pay nearly $500 per month to cover 3 people

with BCBS. They were making us go across town for lab work because they couldn't come up with an agreement with the MCG HI lab for doing simple, standard labs. Freaking idiots.

I shudder to think what lies ahead. When we were forced to use Medco online pharmacy and UMR or some such for medical care coverage, the monthly premium was a tad lower but the coverage absolutely sucked, especially the never ending hassles with Medco. The co-pays were absurd--like 35% of a drug they negotiated out to cost over $350 for a 30-day supply. These were basic, common medications that anyone with asthma or high BP takes.

We were out of pocket up to $300 every month for asthma medicine and basic generic crap that pharmacies basically give away. And they refused to provide medications that worked if they didn't believe we needed them. Screw what our own physicians prescribed. We would have been better off saving the premium money and using it to pay for our care and meds. We would have come out way ahead.

And that's still true today with BCBS, even with really good medication coverage and lower co-pays for care.

I really fear ObozoCare. The leeches who suck places like MCG dry will come in even more, while those of us who are paying for them will be able to get less and less of what we need.

We're paying for the people who don't contribute. I have absolutely no problem regarding people who are old and NO LONGER contribute, but dang, I'm sick of paying for people who simply suck it all down without ever lifting a finger to help out.

dichotomy
36254
Points
dichotomy 09/10/13 - 10:34 am
5
2
I can't work up much sympathy

I can't work up much sympathy for two reasons:

1. Most private citizens are getting an even worse deal.

2. Most educator organizations and unions supported Obama and the Democrats on the Obamacare issue.

whyme
2070
Points
whyme 09/10/13 - 11:38 am
2
3
Yes, I'm grateful....

...that I have a job as a state employee, but except for a select few professions who often have the support of the community, many of us, unlike private sector workers, have seen no raises in at least 5 years nor cost-of-living increases. Back in the day government jobs, though relatively lower paid than private ones, assured a decent wage and acceptable benefits. As the cost of living increases along with the cost of health care but our wages do not, it is indeed a challenge and a concern. No need to put us down for just trying to keep up with the same issues that many people may or may not experience in the private sector. Keep in mind as well that many of us are working in jobs that none of you would dream of working, particularly with the less fortunate in physical and mental health. We do so willingly even without the salary increases. Without folks like us in many state jobs where would you get many of your services completed? Many of us truly care.

Fiat_Lux
16243
Points
Fiat_Lux 09/10/13 - 11:58 am
3
1
Right on target, Whyme

No raises for more than 5 years (I think it's up to 7 now) with benefits costing more and more and more. And these costs are not tied to income. Some one who makes $150K per year pays exactly the same for healthcare coverage as a person who makes $25K.

So for a technician or office assistant, having family health insurance consumes more than 25% of their take-home pay. For the executive type, it takes away far less than 10%.

ObozoCare isn't going to fix that, especially with so many of the well-heeled entitled getting waivers.

GnipGnop
12692
Points
GnipGnop 09/10/13 - 01:01 pm
3
0
Wait...

I thought Obamacare was not going to limit you on what doctor you could see?

KSL
140144
Points
KSL 09/10/13 - 01:29 pm
3
1
Don't for a minute think that

Don't for a minute think that people in the private sector have not been hit and hit hard.

Truth Matters
7825
Points
Truth Matters 09/10/13 - 01:48 pm
1
3
The blame game

1) It is not Obama's fault that state employees have not received a raise in years (it was 7 years for me, perhaps more for others), but I did what my parents taught me-- we lived below our means.
2) It is not Obama's fault that state employees saw insurance rates rise and fall long before he was elected president.
3) even in the past, Pre-"Obamacare," It has not been uncommon for some physicians to not be included in the network plan. Again, this is not something new under ACA. During open enrollment employees are always cautioned to ensure that their physician is in the network for the plan they choose.

I wonder why none of these rants are directed at the state insurance commissioner and governor who decided that Ga would not set up an exchange? That could be an option for some not pleased with their state sponsored plan.

chascushman
6653
Points
chascushman 09/10/13 - 04:05 pm
3
2
"It is not Obama's fault" TM,
Unpublished

"It is not Obama's fault"
TM, yeah we know nothing is the fault of Obama. It was Bush's fault or congress's fault. You folks will never admit the failure of the lying, racist, Marxist/communist in the WH. He is nothing but a community organizer that reads a teleprompter very well. Herman Cain summed it up very well, something about brainwashing.

Red Headed Step Child
4276
Points
Red Headed Step Child 09/10/13 - 04:20 pm
1
2
Cost of living increases

Those still exist?? In my entire working career (27 years), I have never received a "cost of living" increase. Any increases in my compensation were merit based.

chascushman
6653
Points
chascushman 09/10/13 - 04:37 pm
1
1
"In my entire working career
Unpublished

"In my entire working career (27 years), I have never received a "cost of living" increase."
Redhead, it is obvious you have not lived of the taxpayer's teat.

Truth Matters
7825
Points
Truth Matters 09/10/13 - 07:20 pm
1
1
"TM, yeah we know nothing is

"TM, yeah we know nothing is the fault of Obama. It was Bush's fault or congress's fault."

I didn't blame Bush, but if you say he is at fault, I take you at your word.

Truth Matters
7825
Points
Truth Matters 09/10/13 - 07:26 pm
1
0
"TM, yeah we know nothing is

"TM, yeah we know nothing is the fault of Obama. It was Bush's fault or congress's fault."

Maybe this writer would care to explain how Obama is responsible for myself and other state employees not getting a pay raise in 2007 and 2008.

I can't wait for this one.

KSL
140144
Points
KSL 09/10/13 - 07:27 pm
0
1
Well, how convenient.

Well, how convenient.

KSL
140144
Points
KSL 09/10/13 - 07:44 pm
0
1
Failure to reign in Freddie

Failure to reign in Freddie and Fannie (Democrats) helped the economic downturn as did the European crowd, can you say Greece?

Young Fred
19382
Points
Young Fred 09/10/13 - 11:44 pm
0
0
Heck

Freddie and Fannie was the root cause!

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