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.
Roughly 100 people rallied on the steps of the state Capitol Tuesday to protest changes implemented this year to the State Health Benefit Plan for state employees and educators. Those changes have sparked a groundswell of criticism from thousands of Georgians 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.
A state agency offered some financial relief to state employees and teachers Monday by approving changes in their health plan at a specially called board meeting. The sudden action by the Department of Community Health board follows a deluge of complaints from members of the State Health Benefit Plan, which also covers other school personnel, state retirees and dependents.
More than 40,000 children of state employees can now get federally subsidized health insurance, thanks to new rules allowing low-income state workers to enroll them in PeachCare for Kids. State officials expect moving eligible kids into the State Children’s Health Insurance Program will save Georgia $32 million next year.
The health insurance program for Georgia’s state employees is short about $250 million for next year. But the state’s top official in charge of teacher and state employee health plans said he doesn't expect more than a 10 percent jump in premiums next year.