Health Insurance

Articles about Health Insurance that may be useful to Massachusetts retirees

Sights Set On Retiree Dental Plan

JANUARY 2002
- GIC Bidding Process Underway - As members, insured through the state's Group Insurance Commission
(GIC), press for group dental insurance for retirees, the Association
continues to work closely with GIC officials to obtain the benefit for
the coming fiscal year.

Lahey Clinic Executive Named To GIC

SEPTEMBER 2001
- Governor Jane Swift has named Theron (Ron) Bradley to serve as a
commissioner on the Commonwealth’s Group Insurance Commission. Bradley,
who lives in Wilmington, is the vice president of compensation and
benefits at the Lahey Clinic in Burlington.

Abington Agrees To Pay 50% For Survivors

SEPTEMBER 2001
- County Treasurer McLellan Leads Fight - Along with 20 other towns in Plymouth County, Abington belongs to
what many consider the oldest health insurance pool in the state - the
Plymouth County Health Insurance Program. As it happens, that program
is headed up by a longtime Abington resident, namely Plymouth County
Treasurer John McLellan.

Some Lynn Retirees Hit With 37% Insurance Increase

SEPTEMBER 2001
- Association member Joan Russell, a retired Lynn teacher, said that
she was “shocked” when she received her June pension check that was
almost $80.00 less than usual. Joan and her husband Bill are both under
age 65 and are not eligible for Medicare/Medex and, living out of
state, cannot belong to a Mass HMO.

Retirees Continue To Opt For Indemnity Plans Over HMOs

SEPTEMBER 2001
- Greater Expense Deters Few - New statistics just released by the Commonwealth’s Group Insurance
Commission (GIC) show that, despite increased costs, membership in the
GIC Indemnity grew dramatically in the last year. This is good news for
retirees, who depend heavily on this plan as their medical needs
increase.

Towns Continue To Join MIIA Health Insurance Pool

SEPTEMBER 2001
- Plan Now Includes 20% Of Towns - Now in its ninth year of operation, the state's largest municipal
health insurance pool, the Massachusetts Interlocal Insurance
Association (MIIA) Health Benefits Trust, includes twenty percent of
the municipalities in the Commonwealth. In addition to the 67 towns in
the insurance pool, there are 21 water and regional school districts
and similar governmental units participating as well.

Local Retirees Question Physician Bills

JULY 2001 - Can My Doctor Charge Me Or Not? - Members,
insured under a municipal health insurance plan, may have received a
bill from their doctor and questioned why. “What I usually hear from
the members is: ‘I never got a bill before and thought I never would,’”
reports Insurance Coordinator Cheryl Stillman.This
is typical because these members believed, and rightfully so, that
there are state laws that ban physicians from charging them for the
balance owed on a bill over the allowable rate. If a doctor bills $150
for a service and the allowable rate, set by Blue Cross/Blue Shield or
Medicare, is $100, then the doctor cannot bill a patient, insured by
BC/BS or a Medicare supplement plan, for the $50 balance over the
allowable rate.

Agawam

JULY 2001 - New Organization Off and Running - Among the several local organizations, to which many of our members belong, is the Agawam Retired Employees Association (AREA).AREA
was formed by a group of Agawam retirees and survivors for the purpose
of improving benefits for former workers of that Western Massachusetts
city.

Ban On Balance Billing Saves State Millions

JULY 2001 - GIC Uses Law To Set Market Rates - Nearly
five years after the Association successfully battled the Mass Hospital
Association and Medical Society to institute a ban on balance billing
under the state’s insurance plans, the Group Insurance Commission has
utilized the law (Chapter 80, Acts of 1996) to save nearly $85 million
over the past three years.Chapter
80 was originally passed to prevent doctors, hospitals and other
medical providers within Massachusetts from charging members, insured
under the state plan, for the balance left unpaid by the GIC. Expanding
on this prohibition, Chapter 80 has allowed the GIC to institute a
Market Based Reimbursement System (MBRS) for paying medical providers.

Despite Strong Interest Dental Plan Is Delayed

JULY 2001
- Crafting Affordable Coverage Proves Challenging - Members, who had hoped to have retiree dental benefits made available
to them this year, will have to wait a little longer. The ambitious
effort by the state Group Insurance Commission and the Association to
craft a dental plan, to be implemented this July, has been delayed
until July 1, 2002.It
has been determined that, in order to develop an affordable dental
plan, that can be purchased by a large number of retirees, more time
will be needed. On the other hand, efforts are underway to offer
discounted vision care to retirees beginning later this year.