A movement is building among some Georgia teachers and state workers who oppose the new state employees health plan, which went into effect January 1st. The AJC has the details:
Thousands of Georgia teachers and state employees have come down with a serious case of sticker shock from their new health care plans since the start of the year.
To save big money, the state decided to go with a single company to manage the health care of 650,000 teachers, state employees, retirees and their dependents. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Georgia took over the $3 billion program Jan. 1.
Since the switch, which is not related to the Affordable Care Act, state officials have gotten an earful from teachers and employees who are suddenly having to pay more for the same services they received under the old plan. They’re complaining about higher deductibles, new networks that don’t always include their old doctors and the elimination of copayments, which means they have to pay more upfront — sometimes a lot more — when they or their families seek treatment.
Ashley Cline, whose husband is a Cherokee County educator, set up a Facebook group where teachers can air their grievances. The group now has over 7,300 members. She also started a petition which she promises to send to Governor Deal. The petition, which went live last night, now has over 500 signatures.
The state maintains that changes in insurance benefits this year had to be made because the old health insurance plan was running huge deficits. The new plan is expected to save over $200 million annually. It reflects a trend among large employers to make employees more aware of the cost of health care.
Will this winter of discontent have any effect on the upcoming gubernatorial race? Governor Roy Barnes found out the hard way that it’s not a good idea to upset Georgia’s teachers, who worked to defeat him in 2002. On the other hand, if a pay raise for educators is approved this year, it could go a long way to temper their anger.