State officials said Tuesday that they plan to increase the number of insurers and health plan options for state employees and teachers next year. The State Health Benefit Plan (SHBP) has been a target of fierce criticism since Jan. 1. That’s when changes to its benefit design, plus the use of just one insurer, sparked widespread complaints from teachers and state employees about a lack of choice of insurance plans and higher health care costs.
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Georgia is gearing up to handle the transition of the State Health Benefit Plan to a co-pay system next month. Consumers may get a rebate or credit on their previous health care transactions for this year, as a result of the switch to a co-pay system. Currently, patients are operating with a co-insurance model, where they pay a percentage of the costs of a health service.
Georgia health care had more than its share of drama and surprises in 2013. Some of the big stories were linked to the Affordable Care Act. This far-reaching federal law, passed in early 2010, was still generating changes and attracting controversy as if it were brand new. But the ACA wasn’t the only hot topic in Georgia health. Issues ranged from drug scares to complex policy disputes and funding battles.
The commissioner of the Department of Community Health on Thursday upheld the award of the state employees’ health benefits contract to Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Georgia. Clyde Reese, the DCH commissioner, also upheld the award of the pharmacy benefits management contract to Express Scripts. The contract award sparked intense criticism from UnitedHealthcare, which charged that the bidding process was flawed and needed to be redone.
Attorneys for UnitedHealthcare continued hammering away at the state’s award of an employee benefits contract to a competitor, saying Wednesday that it was a deeply flawed bidding process that needs to be redone. United currently holds the SHBP contract, along with Cigna, which has also protested the award.
Georgia Community Health Commissioner Clyde Reese says the state will seek new bids on part of the lucrative state health benefits plan after a major insurance company accused the agency of rigging the process.
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Georgia has known since March that customers’ personal information had been accessible on-line over the previous five months. But it’s taken until this week for the state’s largest health insurance provider to notify 70-thousand potential victims.