Archive

Monday, July 25, 2011

Health Insurance Conversations Begin


July 21st marked the first in a series of conversations surrounding the potential transferring of Somerville’s health insurance to the Group Insurance Commission (GIC). The Finance Committee, chaired by Ward 2 Alderman Maryann Heuston, and members, Alderman-At-Large, Bill White and Ward 6 Alderman/current Board President Rebekah Gewirtz started the meeting by breaking down the Mayor’s request itself and clearly defining what their vote would mean.

Legislative item #191787: “Requesting to amend the city's health insurance benefits by transferring to the Group Insurance Commission (GIC)” was the only item on the committee’s agenda that evening and prompted very intense conversation around the wording of the request. As it reads, the Mayor is requesting the Board of Alderman to approve the transferring directly to the GIC.

The GIC offers significant savings, according to Commission, because the pool of users is substantially sized. The Commission writes on its website, “Health coverage options include an Indemnity plan, Preferred Provider-type Organizations (PPO), an Exclusive Provider Organization (EPO), and multiple HMO plans. The GIC also manages basic and optional life insurance coverage. As part of its UniCare state indemnity and active employee Tufts Health plans, it manages mental health/substance abuse benefits and also manages pharmacy benefits for the indemnity plans. For active state employees only, the GIC offers a long term disability (LTD) program, two pre-tax employee programs - Health Care Spending Account (HCSA) and Dependent Care Assistance Program (DCAP), and for managers, legislators, legislative staff and certain Executive Office staff, a dental/vision plan. The GIC also offers a discount vision and a dental plan for Commonwealth retirees.

The Group Insurance Commission is a quasi-independent state agency governed by a fifteen-member Commission appointed by the Governor. Commission members encompass a range of interests and expertise including labor and retirees, the public interest, the administration, and health economics.


The GIC's FY2012 appropriation is $1.6 billion. The GIC covers almost 190,000 subscribers and over 350,000 lives. The mission of the GIC is to deliver high quality care at reasonable costs.”

This, however, is not the only health insurance option the city has. The city can also transfer to a “designed plan” that may not save as much money as an inclusion in the Group Insurance Commission. A figure of over $9 million has been quoted from financial analysts as the potential savings for Somerville.

It is that over $9 million savings that have some questioning whether the plan is a good idea for struggling families and retirees. A tiered hospital, PCP and specialist, and prescription system would put more popular hospitals at a higher rate. This, of course, would impact users’ copays to see a doctor that has been treating them for years, as well as, their prescription cost and their preferred hospital to be admitted to in the case of an emergency. The plans are on an annual deductible-based system having individuals paying $250, two person families paying $500, and three or more person family paying $750.

A full presentation of the Group Insurance Commission details is scheduled for 6pm on July 27th at City Hall. A public hearing is also included on the agenda to give concerned citizens an opportunity to be heard by members of the Finance Committee.

Please note that there will be more meetings scheduled in August as Mayor Curtatone is pushing for a September 1st inclusion agreement date with a January 1st start for the plan. There is another opportunity for the City to participate in April with a July start. In order to participate in the Group Insurance Commission, all eligible employees must be transferred at once for a minimum of three years after negotiations according to the GIC transfer procedures.

Corresponding Links and Legislation:
Group Insurance Commission
GIC Healthcare Bill signed by Governor
Legislative item #191787: “Requesting to amend the city's health insurance benefits by transferring to the Group Insurance Commission (GIC)”

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

T his plan is just another way for the mayor to hire more police officers that are not needed but supply quit the block of votes. The MAYOR IS A DISGRACE AND IS STEALING THE TAX PAYERS MONEY THE OLD FASHION WAY, WE HAND OUT JOBS. The COMMISSIONER OF PUBLIC WORKS IS A PROFESIONAL ABOUT THIS TYPE OF OLD TIME POLITICS, JUST LIKE TAMMANY HALL IN NY. BACK IN THE 1850S .THE CITY OF SOMERVILLE CAN FOOL THE NEW PEOPLE MOVING INTO THE CITY , BUT THE OLD TIMERS KNOW WHAT IS GOING ON. I KNOW TWO THINGS AOUT THIS ADMINISTRASION YOU ARE EITHER IN WITH THEM OR YOU DONT WORK FOR THE CITY OR GET BUSINESS LICENSESAND MORE.NICE GOING YOU SO CALLED PROGGRESSIVE DEMACRATS WHO NOW BASICALY AGREE WITH EVERYTHING

Anonymous said...

MAKE THEM PAY THE MAYOR ,ALDERMAN, AND SCHOOL COMMITTEE, NO ONE TOLD THEM TO RUN FOR OFFICE, YOU RUN FOR THE BETTERMENT OF YOUR COMMUNITY, NOT HEALTH CARE AND RETIREMENT OPTIONS LIKE ALL OF YOU CROOKED BUNCH