Employees of schools and local agencies who are enrolled in CalPERS' most popular plan, a Kaiser Permanente HMO, face a 12 percent premium increase in the Sacramento area, according to published rates. The same plan is going up a tenth of a percent in the
The second most popular CalPERS plan, the PERS Choice PPO, is going up 8 percent in
The rate increases take effect
CalPERS board members were told last year that
The board approved the change in December.
Agencies that buy insurance from CalPERS were warned about increases, but when final 2020 rates were approved in June, some public administrators in the Sacramento area were surprised by the numbers.
Monthly premiums for the popular Kaiser HMO will rise to
"That equates to
"And, for me, that's where we have significant concerns, because as an employer, we're not able to keep up with those rate increases in what we contribute," Peterson said. "So employees are going to bear the extent of that increase at the family level."
Premiums for the popular PERS Choice PPO reached
A Blue Shield Access + HMO plan, the system's third most popular, increased 28 percent, reaching
At the same time, premiums for an
The regional changes don't apply to state workers, whose insurance is managed separately from the local agency and school plans, nor do they affect Medicare plans that are commonly used by retirees.
Greatest good for the greatest number
Health specialists on CalPERS' staff proposed the change to rating regions as a way to align insurance prices more closely with health care costs and to stabilize premiums.
Health insurance premiums change from year to year based partly on changes in medical spending: When insurers have to spend more on treatment in a given year, they often raise premiums the following year. The impacts to premiums of increased medical spending are spread among all policyholders in an insurance pool.
Other factors also influence premiums, such as insurer competition and the availability of doctors and hospitals in a given region.
Before this year, CalPERS had five regional insurance pools for public agencies and school districts. Over more than a decade, as medical spending rose in parts of each region , the premium increases were spread across the entire regions. For some schools and agencies, the disjuncture created conditions where another insurer could come in and offer lower premiums than CalPERS, according to board materials.
CalPERS staff said improving alignment between spending and premiums could help it market the plans more easily. And by collapsing the five regions into just three -- one covering all of
Of the 42 counties grouped with
CalPERS projections showed that, of the roughly 39,000 people covered in the Sacramento area, about 32,000 would face increases of 5 percent to 10 percent under the change. Board members weighed those increases against projected premium drops of more than 3 percent for about 173,000 people around the state.
Premiums likely still would have increased for
"We don't speculate how rates would have been different had the regions not changed," CalPERS spokeswoman
While prices are fluctuating, benefits and plan designs largely are staying the same, according to CalPERS news releases.
Workers who are considering changing plans should check to see whether their doctors are in other networks, and some CalPERS plans pay different amounts for drugs. Premiums are declining in the Sacramento area for HMOs from
In the Sacramento area,
Policyholders can use an app to compare plans and benefits. The app is available at mobile.my.calpers.ca.gov.
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