This year, the most municipalities ever joined the GIC's health coverage effective July 1, 2009. Despite these challenges, annual enrollment ran smoothly and new municipal members will enjoy a smooth transition thanks to a team effort by municipal staff and the GIC. A total of 14,500 members from 14 municipalities, representing 29,000 lives, enrolled in coverage during enrollment. Danielle Chaplick, the GIC's Municipal Coordinator, was the municipalities' key contact person, coordinating all aspects of the implementation and she praised all of the municipalities for their efforts, "All of the municipalities were committed to the process and this was key to the success of these implementations," she stated.
Work began in the fall to make the transition smooth with a series of in-person and teleconference calls. John Harney, the GIC's Chief Information Officer, says the receipt of data is particularly challenging. To assist, the GIC developed a new software application that allowed municipalities to input their data in the same format, eliminating the need for subsequent edits and helping to ensure that all information was included. Test files from the municipalities were sent in January and the final data were received at the beginning of March. "Working with the dedicated GIC Municipal Team members was a valuable learning experience," said Ginny Ray, Municipal Benefits Coordinator in Stoneham. "They shared their past enrollment experiences and provided us with detailed instructions on what works and what to avoid. When our health fair arrived, we were well-prepared and confident thanks to our training and the many resources at our disposal," she added.
Gathering documentation for eligibility - Medicare documentation, birth and marriage certificates, and divorce decrees - is particularly important. Many municipalities asked that their employees and retirees send them their documentation in advance of annual enrollment. Paul Murphy, the GIC's Director of Operations, commended many of the municipalities for putting together effective filing systems of eligibility documents, which were subsequently matched to enrollment applications, thereby making a big difference in entering the data in the GIC's system on a timely basis so that members would receive their health plan ID cards in time for their July 1 effective date.
Communication also played a key role in a smooth transition. New municipalities collaborated with the GIC to ensure that communications were accurate and complete. Nancy Dinofrio, Benefits Analyst for the City of Pittsfield, said, "As soon as the decision was made to go with the GIC, the City, with the GIC's help, notified employees and retirees as to exactly what was going to happen and what our insureds needed to do in order to keep their health insurance coverage."
For these fourteen municipalities, the hard work is over and they are all enjoying a much deserved breather. Jeff Cannon, Treasurer of the Town of Millis, which joined in July 2008, said, "While there was some additional work in the setup phase, the cost savings to the Town of Millis and its active and retired employees is gratifying and substantial. Our town made an excellent choice when it decided to join the GIC."
Thank you to the following municipalities for all your hard work and making this year's annual enrollment a success! Blue Hills Vocational School District, Cities of Melrose, Quincy, and Pittsfield, Groton-Dunstable Regional School District, Pioneer Valley Planning Commission, Towns of Norwood, Randolph, Stoneham, Swampscott, Watertown, Wenham, Weston, and Weymouth.
Editor's Note: Information to assist municipalities with weighing the GIC health option is located within the of the GIC's website.
This information provided by the Group Insurance Commission.