Retirees Sue N.C. for Changing Health Benefits

April 23, 2012 ( - A group of retirees is suing North Carolina’s employee health plan for breach of contract.

The lawsuit says the state breached contracts when it dropped or began charging premiums for health insurance plans in which state retirees were enrolled, The News & Observer of Raleigh reports. Former Supreme Court Chief Justice I. Beverly Lake is the lead plaintiff in the suit which includes retired teachers, school administrators, SBI agents, office clerks and others.   

According to the newspaper, from 1991 to 2011, the state offered a basic plan that did not require enrollees to pay a premium. Last year, the legislature decided to charge a premium as part of that basic option. From 2005 to 2009, the plan offered a 90/10 option that the legislature eliminated in 2009.   

The lawsuit claims that eliminating those offerings violated contracts the state made with retirees—contracts that were set out in laws from the 1980s. The suit asks the court to restore those health insurance options for eligible retirees, which according the lawsuit is more than 186,000 people.