Communications Takes Center Stage During Times of Change

Helping members understand their benefit options, how to maximize their benefits, and how to take charge of their own health is particularly important during these times of change.  The GIC pulled out multiple stops to help members:

Benefit Decision Guides:  This year’s health plan and mental health procurements put significant production pressure on writing, producing and mailing this year’s Benefit Decision Guides, cited by over 75% of members as their main source of information for Annual Enrollment.  With benefit and offerings finalized at the February 15 Commission meeting, there was a three-week window to write, design, edit and proof the bulk of these critical 118 pages. 

New Social Media Vehicles Implemented:  In the fall, the GIC established a Twitter Account @MassGIC and widely publicized the account throughout the year with new followers added weekly.  We developed an animated Public Hearing presentation that was posted on YouTube so that members, Coordinators, and other interested parties who could not attend were able to listen to the presentation from our Executive Director.  Similarly, our Coordinator training was taped so that Coordinators who could not attend would be able to view and hear this important presentation on a YouTube video located on our website.

New GIC Coordinator Manual and Forms Developed:   We last updated our procedural manuals in 2006.  With the advent of new federal and state legislation, the implementation of municipality reform, and new regulations, it was time to revise these important step-by-step procedures for benefits staff.  The Operations and Communications Directors met throughout the year to identify changes and new procedures, and drafted all-new comprehensive manuals for municipalities.  Due to differences in payroll systems, accessibility to the GIC’s eligibility system, and differences in benefit eligibility, three separate manuals were developed: one for HR/CMS and UMass agencies, one for offline agencies, and one for municipalities.  Enhancements were also made across almost 30 forms: better disclosures about when spouse and former spouse information is needed, a call out on data that are needed, but is often left blank, leading to processing delays, and the implementation of capturing Medicare plan choices for state employees who are retiring, which will help expedite this enrollment process.  We also incorporated new federal health care reform disclosure requirements into the New Hire forms.  The revamped forms were rolled out for the 2013 Annual Enrollment period, and Coordinators were trained on changes at the Coordinator training sessions.  All content of the new manuals was added to the GIC’s website.

GIC Website:  The GIC website continued to expand throughout the year and now has over 1,000 pages.  The site is widely used with over 9,300 visits and an average of over 107,000 page views per month.

Coordinator Training:  GIC Benefit Coordinators located in state agencies and municipalities across the state are a key extension of the GIC and it is important that they are kept up to date on GIC initiatives, legislation, new procedures and forms, and resources available.  A series of five training sessions were held across the state before Annual Enrollment and over 560 Coordinators attended.  The sessions also included panel discussions with the health plans, new mental health carrier, Long Term Disability and retiree dental plan carriers.

This information provided by the Group Insurance Commission .