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CalPERS Approves Hikes in Health Insurance Rates

June 19, 2003|From Times Staff and Wire Reports

The full board of the California Public Employees' Retirement System voted Wednesday to approve the estimated 17% rate increase for health insurance premiums for next year.

The 7-5 vote came despite continued protests from retirees, state workers and agencies that contract with CalPERS for medical insurance. CalPERS, the big pension fund based in Sacramento, has about 1.2 million members.

In a news release Wednesday, CalPERS said health insurance premiums overall would rise by an average of 16.7% to 18.4% next year. Just how much individual members will have to pay depends on the rate negotiated between the worker and his or her employer.

That translates to about $50 extra per month for a single member who is part of Kaiser Permanente or Blue Shield of California's HMO plans and up to $72 a month extra for single members on the Western Health Advantage plan. Premiums for the PERSCare preferred provider network, the system's most expensive plan, will drop slightly, while CalPERS' other preferred provider plan, PERSChoice, could rise by as much as 18.5%.

The overall premium increases are substantially lower than the original 31% proposed by the health maintenance organizations -- partly because of the higher fees for emergency room visits and prescription drugs.

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