The California Public Employees' Retirement System, Sacramento, will boost HMO premiums between 16% and 18.4% for most of its 1.2 million members in 2004 and significantly raise copayments for prescription drugs and emergency room visits. CalPERS granted premium increases of 17% to 18.4% for Blue Shield of California, its largest health plan. Meanwhile, Kaiser Permanente received an increase of 16% to 18.2%. The pension fund approved a 25% average premium increase last year. CalPERS voted to set copays for brand-name drugs not covered under the HMOs' plans at $45 to $75, up from $20 to $45. ER visits will cost $50, up from no charge to $25 previously. CalPERS touted the new rates as the best deal it could cut after insurers initially proposed rate increases topping more than 30%.-- by Laura B. Benko
CalPERS' premiums to rise 16% to 18% in 2004
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