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Health insurance provider changes approved by State Employees’ Insurance Board

BY MARY SELL, Alabama Daily News

The State Employees’ Insurance Board voted recently to change some of its health insurance providers.

While Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama will continue to provide insurance to state employees, Medicare Advantage coverage for about 17,000 state retirees will switch from BlueCross to UnitedHealthcare.

That move will save the state $11 million in 2020, the first year of a three-year contract, according to the State Employees Insurance Board.

“We anticipate significant savings with minimal disruption to our members as we transition to these new vendors,” said Sally Corley, chief operating officer for SEIB. 

The board is also switching its prescription drug benefits provider to OptumRx, a move Corley said is expected to save the state $50 million during the three-year contract. 

“State Employees will continue to enjoy the medical coverage that they now have with BCBS of Alabama, and they will receive a new card for use at their pharmacy. Medicare Advantage members will have an enhanced benefit package with better co-pays beginning January 1st.”

State law requires SEIB and the Public Education Employees’ Health Insurance Plan Board to advertise for insurance vendors every three years. The PEEHIP board made changes in May, including switching its retirees’ coverage from UnitedHealthcare to Humana.

Corley said SEIB will communicate directly with members in the coming months about the transitions. 

“With the anticipated savings from these changes, we are hopeful that state employees’ benefits will stay intact without an increase to out of pocket expenses in 2020,” she said.

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