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HEALTH INSURANCE TO SEE SHARP INCREASE

Adding to the fiscal problems emphasized in Tuesday's Senate Finance Committee meeting by Post Auditor Campbell Malone, came the announcement of a sharp increase in the cost of the government's health insurance program.
Paulette Rabsatt, chairwoman of the health insurance board of trustees, said rates could jump as much as 23 percent for medical coverage and 39 percent for dental coverage. She said, as is the case with health care nationally, the board has been faced with the rising cost of health care and an increasing number of employees who cannot afford it.
The territory's contract with Blue Cross Blue Shield of the V.I. expired on Sept. 30, Rabsatt said, and the board has entered into an extension until Dec. 31, in anticipation of renegotiating a new contract for next year.
Rabsatt said the carrier advised that the projected plan increase for the renewal period of Oct. 1, 2000 through Sept. 30, 2001, would result in the increases listed above. The board met with the carrier and requested the carrier share in the proposed increase by absorbing a percentage of the cost. The reason for the request is that the board felt certain monitoring provisions, such as utilization reviews, were not implemented by the carrier in a timely fashion. The carrier made a counter offer of absorbing 3 percent of the cost for the three-month period from October 2000 through December 2000, which the board accepted.
Though in the past the plan had had a surplus, in a recent time period, April 1999 to April 2000, the claims paid out exceeded premiums by 28 percent, changing the picture.
The board is still negotiating with the carrier for an equitable plan and has told Gov. Charles W. Turnbull of the proposed increases, in response to his request for a recommendation from the board regarding the cost-sharing plan in his Fiscal Year 2001 budget.
Beryl E. Kean, chief of group health insurance, said, "The medical, dental and prescription plan covers 13,121 participants." Of that, 8,085 are active employees, 5,036 are retirees, and of these participants 4,511 employees of the 8,085 have their dependents covered for medical and prescription and 1,303 of the retirees have their dependents covered for medical and prescription.
Rabsatt said the governor realizes the board will need time to make informed recommendations, thus relieving the board of a specific deadline to respond to the budget proposal. She said that the board's review of alternate plans is ongoing, but none are inexpensive.
"The board is trying to minimize the impact of rising health care in view of … the government employees' stagnant wages and increasing costs in all areas of their lives," Rabsatt concluded.

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Adding to the fiscal problems emphasized in Tuesday's Senate Finance Committee meeting by Post Auditor Campbell Malone, came the announcement of a sharp increase in the cost of the government's health insurance program.
Paulette Rabsatt, chairwoman of the health insurance board of trustees, said rates could jump as much as 23 percent for medical coverage and 39 percent for dental coverage. She said, as is the case with health care nationally, the board has been faced with the rising cost of health care and an increasing number of employees who cannot afford it.
The territory's contract with Blue Cross Blue Shield of the V.I. expired on Sept. 30, Rabsatt said, and the board has entered into an extension until Dec. 31, in anticipation of renegotiating a new contract for next year.
Rabsatt said the carrier advised that the projected plan increase for the renewal period of Oct. 1, 2000 through Sept. 30, 2001, would result in the increases listed above. The board met with the carrier and requested the carrier share in the proposed increase by absorbing a percentage of the cost. The reason for the request is that the board felt certain monitoring provisions, such as utilization reviews, were not implemented by the carrier in a timely fashion. The carrier made a counter offer of absorbing 3 percent of the cost for the three-month period from October 2000 through December 2000, which the board accepted.
Though in the past the plan had had a surplus, in a recent time period, April 1999 to April 2000, the claims paid out exceeded premiums by 28 percent, changing the picture.
The board is still negotiating with the carrier for an equitable plan and has told Gov. Charles W. Turnbull of the proposed increases, in response to his request for a recommendation from the board regarding the cost-sharing plan in his Fiscal Year 2001 budget.
Beryl E. Kean, chief of group health insurance, said, "The medical, dental and prescription plan covers 13,121 participants." Of that, 8,085 are active employees, 5,036 are retirees, and of these participants 4,511 employees of the 8,085 have their dependents covered for medical and prescription and 1,303 of the retirees have their dependents covered for medical and prescription.
Rabsatt said the governor realizes the board will need time to make informed recommendations, thus relieving the board of a specific deadline to respond to the budget proposal. She said that the board's review of alternate plans is ongoing, but none are inexpensive.
"The board is trying to minimize the impact of rising health care in view of ... the government employees' stagnant wages and increasing costs in all areas of their lives," Rabsatt concluded.