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Employee insurance choices cut to three

June 13, 2011

Image of medical symbolA ruling by a Sangamon County judge has thrown a new wrinkle into the health insurance picture for state employees.

The ruling, which came down Friday, prohibits the state of Illinois from enrolling employees, retirees and dependents in any new self-insured “open access” health plans that begin July 1. As a result, HealthLink OAP and PersonalCare OAP are NO LONGER AVAILABLE as insurance options for state employees.

That leaves only three health insurance options available for employees.

Employees must select one of those options by the conclusion of the Benefits Choice enrollment period, which ends Friday, June 17.

Those who previously selected HealthLink or PersonalCare must also make a new selection by that date, choosing from the three remaining options. Those who fail to choose an option will automatically be assigned to the Quality Care Health Plan.

“We understand the frustration that this is creating for employees who are trying to make what is perhaps the most important choice they have to make regarding benefits,” said NIU Vice President for Human Resources Steve Cunningham. “Unfortunately, this situation is completely beyond our control.”

The judge’s ruling at the heart of this latest change was issued at the request of and based on lawsuits filed by Health Alliance Medical Plans, Inc. and Humana Health Plan, Inc., the unsuccessful bidders for the state’s self-insurance and fully insured contracts. Those two companies maintain that the state had entered into this latest set of contracts illegally. The state denies that charge and claims that the new providers could reduce costs by $1 billion over the next decade.

For the latest on the situation, check the state’s Benefits Choice website.