State workers frustrated over healthcare changes - WAFB 9 News Baton Rouge, Louisiana News, Weather, Sports

State workers frustrated over healthcare changes

Group benefits meeting (Source: WAFB) Group benefits meeting (Source: WAFB)
BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Changes coming to health care for state workers and retirees have many people worried and frustrated.

They took their concerns to the State Capitol Thursday to let lawmakers know they cannot afford the reported cost.

State employees, retirees, and some of their relatives packed the Capitol hoping to learn more about changes to the Office of Group Benefits health insurance plan lashed out at lawmakers.

"It ain't open if you can't buy the plan," Vicky Picou said.

"I thought I had a good plan," Henry Reed, Jr. said.

"The money has to come from somewhere and it's going to come out of the employee's pockets," another man said.

Under the new HMO Plan, those who choose the Magnolia Local Plus option will see the following changes--$10 increases to co-payments at primary care doctors, a $25 increase for specialty care physicians, and a $500 deductible.

But, for some, to keep the coverage they currently have they said it will cost them more than triple the amount they pay now.

"For me and my husband, our current $600 deductible, on January 1 will become a $3,000 deductible," Picou said.

Some policy holders could also see changes in prescription charges.

Retiree Henry Reed, Jr. approached legislators with a bag of medication to deliver the impact the healthcare changes will have on him.

"This little bottle of pills for one month costs $2,000 and Med Impact will not pay for this," Reed said.

Under the new plan, those who have conditions labeled "chronically ill" will have to pay more for coverage. That includes diabetics. Some find it insulting.

"This administration's streamlined efficiency is a steamroller with ill members, members who need to use office visits, and members in the hospital being kicked to the curb," Picou said.

Kristy Nichols with the Governor's Office of Administration said the OBG is facing the same situation as other employers, an annual 6 percent increase in healthcare costs, the added cost of a $24 million dollar Affordable Care Act, and a dwindling cash balance that was once used to shield members from rising costs.

Still, some policy holders are not hearing it. They feel lawmakers were fiscally irresponsible, and now their healthcare coverage is being tapped to replenish the state's pockets.

"I think we ought to change the name of Office of Group Benefits to Humpty Dumpty because I think we've effectively knocked it off the wall and I don't think we can put it back together again," one man said.

Click here for more details on the health insurance plans the state is offering. Enrollment begins Oct. 1.

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