SHREVEPORT, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – One of the region’s largest healthcare providers on Friday weighed in on the debate over the City of Shreveport’s health insurance coverage plans for employees and retirees.

Ochsner LSU Health plays a major role in the region’s health care. As the City of Shreveport debates a new healthcare plan for its employees and retirees, Chief Medical Officer Dr. Charles Fox wants to lay to rest any misconceptions or fears people may have regarding access to the system’s doctors.

“People are not going to lose their relationships with their current provider. I think there was a lot fear I heard at the meetings about people having to lose that provider relationship. That’s preserved. That’s not going away. The costs are not going to go up. In fact, there’s options for the costs to go down,” said Dr. Charles Fox.

The Health Care Trust Fund Board has approved an optional Medicare Advantage plan for retirees as a cost savings option for both patients and the city. The city council approved it to move forward.

“The Medicare Advantage plan is basically an option for those retirees and their families if they would like to join and have their care at Ochsner LSU. They are some price differences when you look at the different plans, and you choose to participate in. The good news is for those in an existing plan that the cost of that plan is not going to change. It’s not going to go up. You’re not going to lose that coverage. But if you want to change to a different health care system, you have that option. There are some cost differences between the different options that may be appealing to some folks and maybe not to others depending on what your health care needs are at that point in your life.”

As the Health Care Trust Fund Board develops a new overall plan, Ochsner LSU Health is supportive of the Tier One plan proposed for 2023.

“Tier One, the pricing on that would be slightly less than the other two tiers,” Dr. Fox said.

He said under the tiered plan, patients receiving care at any of the systems or independent providers will see little to no cost increase. The proposed plan is just like the existing plan except those who choose Tier One will pay less, plus the city will pay less, the tiers are not mutually exclusive, and patients can go to different doctors in different tiers.

“The whole purpose of the trust fund’s proposal to the city council is to create more options for individuals. More choices. I think we have three great health care systems in the city and we found that some people use one or the other, and they want to preserve that choice, and the good news is that is preserved by all these different things that are being preserved,” Fox said.

The Health Care Trust Fund Board will bring the new plan to the city council, which has 15 days to ratify it or send it back to the board.