The board of the

California Public Employees' Retirement System

voted to drop





(CI) - Get Report

from its health benefits package for 2002, in part because of the high costs associated with the plans.

Another health care provider,


, voluntarily withdrew its bid to continue providing benefits to members of Calpers. Aetna served about 35,000 Calpers members, while Cigna and Lifeguard each served about 30,000 members.

Calpers is the nation's largest public pension fund with assets totaling more than $169 billion. The system provides retirement and health benefits to more than 1.2 million state and local public employees and their families.