Baton Rouge, Louisiana
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State worker insurance costs to rise

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BATON ROUGE - If your health insurance is administered by the Office of Group Benefits, more options are heading your way in the way of HMOs, PPOs and high-deductible plans, but with those options comes increases in HMO co-pays and PPO deductibles. The changes follow a five-percent premium increase tacked on in July. Individuals also bear responsibility for picking the program that's right for them.

"We are introducing these consumer-driven health plans to get people more engaged in the thought process before they run off and get things or get services," said Thomas Groves, assistant commissioner of statewide services for the Office of Group Benefits. "So they think about the price of those between labwork at the doctor's office or at the hospitals."

OGB said the price increases are to keep up with inflation and the rising costs of health care. State Treasurer John Kennedy said that is not nearly the whole truth.

"The one and only problem now (at OGB), not rising costs of health care," said Kennedy. "It's the state went in and took the money. They had $550 million in cash and the state went in and took it."

Kennedy said the state raided the savings budget at OGB and used the funds to plug holes in the general fund.

"Dramatic increases in deductibles, dramatic increases in co-pays, dramatic changes in networks," Kennedy said. "They're basically trying to right the ship by rationing the care."

The Office of Group Benefits is holding meetings and webinars statewide to educate people about the coming changes before the enrollment period begins.



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