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Legislative Updates

The Act Relative to Municipal Health Insurance, enacted in July 2011, makes it easier for cities and towns to control rising health care costs by allowing changes to employees' health care coverage outside of the collective bargaining process.

Highlights of the legislation:

Changes in Collective Bargaining

  • Cities and towns who want to change plan designs or move into the Group Insurance Commission must notify the insurance advisory committee according to the timelines put forth in the legislation.

  • Following that notification, there is a 30-day bargaining window with unions to agree on the changes.

  • If no agreement is reached, a three-person panel is authorized to review the municipality's proposal and, if necessary, implement plan design changes.

  • Up to 25% of the achieved savings may be redirected to employees to offset higher copayments and deductibles.

  • The panel would include one member appointed by the municipality, one member appointed by the public employee committee, and one member selected jointly from a list of impartial mediation professionals.

These changes can give you the opportunity to consider new plan options like tiered networks and deductible-based products that can result in significant savings. You can find out more about your options in our coverage options section.

Moving into the Group Insurance Commission
If a municipality wants to move employees into the GIC, the legislation allows them to do so. Municipalities must, however, be able to demonstrate additional savings of at least five percent more than they would with local plan design changes, such as changing plans with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts.

When municipalities join the GIC, they also must agree to participate for three years and offer only the plans selected by the GIC.

Staying with Blue Cross Blue Shield, however, does offer powerful benefits, including:

  • Premium savings
  • 12-month rate guarantee
  • Flexibility to change plans with just 30 days notice
  • Support team that is focused solely on municipal business
  • Wellness programs that have been proven to be effective

Retiree Changes
All eligible municipal retirees must now enroll in Medicare and the legislation extends the moratorium on changes to retiree premium cost sharing agreements from two to three years.

Spending Accounts Allowed
Municipalities can also offer consumer-directed health care options, such as:

  • Flexible spending accounts
  • Medical plans paired with Health Reimbursement Arrangements

You can see the full text of the legislation on the Commonwealth of Massachusetts website.

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