For Immediate Release March 3, 2011

Boston, MA- The Group Insurance Commission approved rates for Fiscal 2012 at its meeting yesterday averaging a 2.4% increase, the lowest increase in three years.

Dolores Mitchell, Executive Director of the GIC told Commissioners at the annual rate setting meeting that the very favorable rates were attributable to a two-part cost containment strategy to control growth in rates charged by insurers and to incent employees to move to lower cost plans. In addition, the rates reflect lowered rates of medical services utilization, and vigorous rate negotiations.

"There are a lot of moving parts in our predictions for next year, but we've put all the pieces in place, and we're very pleased to present these rates." The new rates become effective on July first and compare very favorably with national trends of a 6.4% for 2011 for employer-sponsored health benefits.

"Governor Patrick has made it clear that controlling health care costs is a top priority," said Secretary of Administration and Finance Jay Gonzalez. "The fact that we are seeing the lowest rate increase in three years is due in large part to the aggressive steps the GIC is taking to contain costs for employees' health care by successfully negotiating lower rates."

All state employees are required to re-enroll in their health plans during this years' annual enrollment, with a goal of incenting state employees to join limited networks and thereby save the Commonwealth tens of millions of dollars in health care costs. Employees who switch to the less costly plans will get a premium holiday for three months as well as the savings from the lower premiums for the rest of the year. The GIC offers six limited network plans whose average premiums are 20% lower than the broad network plans. The limited network plans include Fallon Community Health Plan Direct, Harvard Pilgrim Primary Choice, Health New England, NHP-Neighborhood Health Plan, Tufts Spirit Plan, and UniCare's Community Choice Plan. Employees who fail to re-enroll will be assigned to Community Choice, the least costly state-wide plan.

This information provided by the Group Insurance Commission .