GIC Set To Increase Out-of-Pocket Costs

Association Calls for Reconsideration

FEBRUARY 10, 2017: The state’s Group Insurance Commission is scheduled to meet on Tuesday, February 14th to finalize plan design and rates for FY17, which begins July 1.

Together with a coalition of active employee unions, our Association has called upon Governor Charlie Baker and the GIC to reconsider its plan to increase out-of-pocket costs. Baker, like past governors, controls all appointments to the Commission.

In January, the 17-member Commission voted 11-6 to increase copayments and deductibles beginning in July. According to the GIC, this move would help reduce an otherwise anticipated 8.6% increase in insurance premiums.

However, Mass Retirees officials have cried foul over the fact that the increase would follow on the heals of the $180 million increase in 2015. That decision, also carried out by the Baker Administration, increased most copayments and the non-Medicare annual deductible.

The latest proposal, which can be found by clicking here, increases the deductible for non-Medicare retirees and employees to $500 individual/$1,000 family annually. It also creates a new $100 annual non-Medicare prescription drug deductible, as well as a new $20 office visit copayment for Medicare enrollees.

Further, the GIC has proposed restricting access to certain Harvard Pilgrim and Tufts insurance plans due to both insurers coming in with higher costs.

On February 1, GIC held what the agency refers to as a “Public Information Meeting”. Retiree and union representatives had called on the GIC to hold off on the plan design vote until after the hearing, but lost on a 9-8 vote.

In anticipation of a large crowd the hearing was held at the Boston Public Library, where several hundred retirees and employees insured under the GIC plans objected to the scheduled copayment and deductible changes.

“We don’t think this increases are fair or affordable for our retirees. This increase would mark a cost shift of over $300 million in just two years,” said President Frank Valeri. “The answer is to making health care is not making retirees or employees pay more. The answer rests at the root of the problem, which is that the cost of the product is too high.

“Our Association is hoping for something better than a “Valentine’s Day Massacre” for our members! Lets hope the Commission sees fit to reconsider its earlier vote and find a more balanced approach to addressing the issue of rising health care costs.”