Politics
5:15 pm
Thu January 23, 2014

Gov. Deal: State Health Benefit Plan Could Have More Provider Options in 2015

Since Georgia moved to a new health benefit plan for state employees on Jan. 1, many teachers and other state employees have complained. One of their main concerns is the fact that Blue Cross Blue Shield of Georgia is the only provider for the plan. But  Gov. Nathan Deal says that could soon change.

After a press conference at the state Capitol, Gov. Deal told reporters state officials plan to make an announcement very soon about Georgia’s employee health benefit plan. Deal says it’s too late to add additional providers this year, but he says the 650,000 state employees taking part in the plan could see more providers as early as next January.

“It would be nice, and I wish that we did have more than one provider available at this point in time. We will work to make sure that does occur in the future. It is a one year bidding cycle, and it will be opened up for rebidding for calendar year 2015.”

One reason state employees have been upset about the single provider plan is their belief that it has led to higher out-of-pocket costs. They also complain doctors they saw previously are now outside their network. But Deal says the main culprit for the rising costs is the federal Affordable Care Act.

UnitedHealthcare, one of the previous administrators for the state’s plan, has also raised concerns about the awarding of the new contract to Blue Cross Blue Shield. UnitedHealthcare filed litigation against the state claiming Georgia’s Department of Community health "rigged" the bidding process. Last August, a Fulton County Superior Court judge turned down UnitedHealthcare’s request to block the new contract.