Nearly 95 percent of state Group Benefits members will get health insurance through a Blue Cross and Blue Shield plan offering next year, the agency reported Tuesday.

Some 135,000 households representing about 230,000 state employees, teachers, retirees and their families have enrolled, slightly more than last year.

The new benefit plans offered have not yet completed a legally required administrative approval process, which includes publication of the changes, a public hearing and potential oversight by the Legislature. The public hearing is scheduled for Dec. 29 in the Claiborne Building in Baton Rouge. The plans offer more coverage options, but usher in higher premiums and higher out-of-pocket expenses for members to help program finances.

Group Benefits enrollees had until Dec. 7 to make a selection among five plan offerings. Going into the final week, sign-up was lagging. The administration reported that 62 percent of active members and 42 percent of retirees had enrolled in one of the plans — leaving a big gap.

When sign-up ended, some 20,000 households — 17,000 of them with retirees — had not chosen a plan, according to preliminary data released by Group Benefits. A plan was chosen for them.

“For a variety of reasons they did not make active decisions,” said Division of Administration communications director Meghan Parrish.

Parrish said retirees knew that they would be automatically assigned to the plan most comparable to their current benefits coverage. She said some may not have wanted to fill out the paperwork.

Another 3,758 active Group Benefits members were enrolled in a new lower premium health benefits plan that offers $1,000 to $2,000 in employer funding to offset out-of-pocket costs. The plan — called Pelican HRA 1000 — was the least popular among enrollees.

When insurance sign-up ended, 88 percent of enrollees chose traditional health maintenance or preferred provider organizations , 64 percent the HMO option.

The Jindal administration announced a series of major plan changes in September to stabilize the finances of the state health insurance program. The program’s once healthy $500 million-plus reserves had dwindled to less than half that in just over two years and continue to be eaten up as medical claims exceed premiums coming in.

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