Health Insurance

Articles about Health Insurance that may be useful to Massachusetts retirees

Blue Cross plan shows reduction in spending

By Liz Kowalczyk
Globe Staff  

July 11, 2012

The largest private-sector effort to tame medical spending in Massachusetts appears to be getting results, as doctors who agreed to work on a budget have cut costs by using less-expensive imaging and lab companies and expanding office hours to reduce emergency room use.

State officials say new law has saved more than $175m in health insurance premiums for municipalities, school districts

July 11, 2012

By Martin Finucane, Globe Staff

Massachusetts officials said today that a new law designed to help municipalities and school districts reduce their health insurance costs has saved more than $175 million in premium costs for 127 municipalities and districts.

GOVERNOR APPROVES RETIREE BUDGET AMENDMENTS

3% State & Teacher COLA On $13k Base Included

JULY 9, 2012: On Sunday, Governor Patrick signed the $32.6 billion FY13 state budget into law. Contained within the budget is a new 3% State & Teacher COLA, a minimum survivor pension increase for disability retirees’ survivors and access to the Group Insurance Commission’s retiree dental plan for municipal retirees insured under the state plan.

HEALTHCARE COMMISSION CLOSELY WATCHED

Tasked With Reducing Retiree Insurance Costs

JULY 2012 VOICE: Retiree and labor advocates are keeping a close eye on the new Special Commission on Retiree Healthcare that is now entering its 3rd month of deliberations.

GIC CONTRACTS UP FOR RENEWAL IN FY14

Will Blue Cross Submit Bid?

JULY 2012 VOICE: The start of Fiscal Year 2013 marks the last remaining contract year for the state Group Insurance Commission’s six health insurance carriers. All told, the GIC offers a selection of six different Medicare and eleven different non-Medicare plans.

Under state law, the GIC cannot extend its contracts beyond five years. Typically, the agency will award a three-year contract with the option for two one-year extensions.

GROUPS SEEK TO CUT RETIREE HEALTH BENEFITS

Cite Current & Future Costs

JULY 2012 VOICE: As the strongest advocates for cuts in pension and healthcare benefits, neither the Mass. Taxpayers Foundation (MTF) nor the Mass. Municipal Association (MMA) should be unknown to most public retirees.

GIC DEADLINE EXTENDED

Peabody & Orange Eye January Entry

JUNE 20, 2012: A newly enacted change to insurance law has opened the door for mid-year entry into the state’s Group Insurance Commission (GIC). Unless otherwise provided by special act, enrollment in the GIC has traditionally begun on July 1.

Under Chapter 118, the FY13 Supplemental Budget signed into law by Governor Patrick on June 19, 2012, municipalities may now also enter the GIC on January 1, if they notify the agency of their intention to do so by July 1 of the previous year.

HEALTH INSURANCE INCREASE LOWER IN FY13

State's 1.43% Bucks Trend

MAY 2012 VOICE: With national health costs struggling to stay below 100% increases and our state’s public sector critics crying “budget busters”, the Commonwealth’s Group Insurance Commission’s (GIC) FY13 rate increase of just 1.43% has to be headline news.

GOVERNOR APPROVES LIMIT TO GIC CHANGES

Prohibits Mid-Year Copayment/Deductible Increases

MAY 2012 VOICE: Following through on a commitment made during the Municipal Health Care Reform debate last summer, Governor Deval Patrick has signed into law a provision that prohibits the state’s Group Insurance Commission (GIC) from mid-year increases in copayments or deductibles.

MORE MUNICIPALITIES JOINING GIC THIS JULY

11,000 New Municipal Enrollees

MAY 2012 VOICE: Lowell is not the only municipality whose retirees and employees will be enrolled in the state’s Group Insurance Commission (GIC) beginning July 1 (see March Voice). Seven other communities have also notified the GIC that they will be transferring their retirees and employees this July.