Town Saves Millions In Insurance Costs

NOVEMBER 1998 - Under Coalition Bargaining - Despite
its critics, the coalition bargaining law continues to operate
effectively for the town of Lexington. Under the law, a coalition
bargaining committee of town and union representatives, including one
representing our Association , implement and maintain the health
insurance package for the town’s retirees, employees and survivors.

Opponents
of the law contend that coalition bargaining ties the hands of town
officials when it comes to cost controls. But the Lexington experience
proves their criticism to be misleading, at best.

According
to Bob Cunha, a Lexington firefighter and committee co-chair, “Our town
has realized approximately $5 million in savings since coalition
bargaining was started here back in ‘94. We’re able to achieve these
savings without substantially changing benefits for our retirees and
employees.”

Joins MIIA Program

As
we reported last year (July 1997 Voice), the Lexington committee
challenged the escalating administrative fees being charged by Blue
Cross/Blue Shield. In response, the committee decided to continue with
BC/BS after July 1,1997 but also to seek bids from other insurers and
providers.

Upon reviewing the bids,
Lexington’s committee discovered the lowest cost came from a program,
about which our Association has reported over the years, most recently
last September. It turned out that the MIIA (Massachusetts Interlocal
Insurance Assoc.) program was the most attractive option for the town.

“Under
the MIIA program, Lexington would save approximately $500,000,” says
John Walsh, the Association’s committee representative. “And just as
important, we would be able to keep BC/BS products that our retirees
prefer.”

After months of
negotiations, Lexington joined the MIIA program earlier this year. In
addition to BC/BS’s Blue Choice, HMO Blue, Medex and Senior Plan,
Lexington continued Harvard/Pilgrim for current enrollees in that
plan’s clinics.

While the
Harvard/Pilgrim enrollees will continue to contribute 15% of the
premium, those in HMO Blue will be paying only 10%. Enrollees in Blue
Choice continue to contribute 20% while Delta Dental is offered at a
50-50 split in premium.

Under
coalition bargaining, retirees, living outside the state, are treated
as if they live in the Blue Choice network. In other words, every
retiree is entitled to the same benefits and coverages regardless where
one chooses to live.

Tags: