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City workers won't have to change doctors

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By Karen Cohilas - bio | email

September 16, 2008

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - City of Albany employees won't have to choose between Phoebe and Palmyra Hospitals. Commissioners approved a new health plan Tuesday with Blue Cross/Blue Shield. And while they'll save money by using Phoebe, they'll still get coverage if they use Palmyra. And to sweeten the deal, Palmyra's CEO says he'll match Phoebe's prices, so there will be no additional out of pocket expenses for employees.

As a lawsuit Palmyra filed against Phoebe continues, city of Albany employees won't have to get in the middle of the fight. "I am really elated," said Commissioner Dorothy Hubbard. Tuesday, Albany city commissioners tentatively approved a new plan for employees with Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Georgia.

"Our employees get to go to the doctor of their choice," said City Manager Alfred Lott, "regardless of where that person resides and we have gotten agreements from Palmyra that they will honor and give our employees the same breaks that Phoebe does and that's a really good deal."

While Phoebe is the "in-network" hospital, Palmyra CEO Bud Wethington says city employees won't know his hospital is out-of-network, since he plans to waive those fees. "We waive the out-of-pocket which is basically your deductible and co-pay and they're able to come to us at no differential of a cost to them," he said.

Commissioner Dorothy Hubbard said she's glad to know the 24% of employees who use Palmyra and doctors who practice there, won't have to change. "I think it has always been the city's position that the employee should have the right to choose and that the employee relationship with his/her physician is a sacred kind of thing."

Most employees will have a premium increase of about 10%. Open enrollment in the plan starts next month. It goes into effect January 1st. Palmyra is awaiting approval on an obstetrics unit so the hospital will be able to deliver babies.

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