PEIA members face $500 increase if they don’t register for Healthy Tomorrows

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PEIA members face $500 increase if they don’t register for Healthy Tomorrows
By Jeff Jenkins in WV MetroNews

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Members of the state-run insurance system face an additional $500 deductible if they fail to register for the Healthy Tomorrows program during the current open enrollment period which ends May 15.

Public Employees Insurance Agency (PEIA) Director Ted Cheatham said Monday on MetroNews Talkline the first year of the three-year program requires the plan member to get a doctor.

“There are a lot preventable diseases out there, high blood pressure, cholesterol, heart disease, and we want to make people aware of that,” Cheatham said. “We’re asking them, this first year during open enrollment, to pick a primary care physician. Pick a doctor they can go to and start to manage their health.”

The second year of Healthy Tomorrows will require the participant to actually have their numbers when it comes to high blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol, while the third year requires getting those numbers to an acceptable healthy range.

Cheatham said it would be great if all 80,000 workers who are covered by PEIA would sign up for the program but he knows that won’t be the case.

“I don’t think we’re going to see 100 percent, we never do. I think probably the penalty needs to be a little greater, but we had to walk. People are a little scared–big brother looking in like this,” Cheatham said. “If they don’t want to play they should have to pay a little more.”

The cost may go up initially for PEIA because members may be placed on medication for high blood pressure on other high readings for the first time, but Cheatham predicts cost could go down over time.

“We’re trying to avoid strokes, people having to have to get on insulin with diabetes. We’re trying to avoid all of those long-term conditions and get people healthier,” Cheatham said.

The acceptable levels established for the third year of the program is 140/90 for blood pressure, 125 for blood sugar and 245 for cholesterol.