Many state employees and teachers will see no increase in their health insurance premiums next year under rates approved by a state agency’s board Thursday.
The State Health Benefit Plan members will have choices among plans offered by three health insurers, rather than a single insurance company this year.
The SHBP covers 650,000 state employees, teachers, other school personnel, retirees and dependents. With those numbers, the members of the health plan have proved to be a potent political force in this election year.
Changes in the health plan that started Jan. 1 triggered fierce criticism from members, who complained about a lack of choice of insurance plans and higher health care costs. A Facebook group (Teachers Rally to Advocate for Georgia Insurance Choices, or TRAGIC) attracted thousands of members. Teachers and state employees rallied at the state Capitol, protesting the new health plan design.
TRAGIC members Thursday praised the wider health plan options.
“I’m glad to see we have a choice,” said a member of the group and a retired Marietta teacher, Julie Jarrett, after the Department of Community Health board vote Thursday. (Community Health oversees the state health plan.)
Many SHBP members had trouble understanding the 2014 Health Reimbursement Arrangement (HRA) and how it worked, Jarrett added.
“I’m happy they’re going to educate all the members what the HRA really is,’’ Jarrett said Thursday. “They didn’t do that last year.” full story