Continuing to offer high quality health insurance options while controlling costs for both the Commonwealth and state employees was the goal for this year's annual enrollment: by all measures the goal was met with an overwhelming success. Active state employees who resided in Massachusetts and had GIC health insurance were required to re-enroll in health insurance for coverage effective July 1, 2011. Employees were given an incentive of a three-month premium holiday - free health insurance - if they enrolled in one of the GIC's six limited network plans. Not only did over 99% of employees re-enroll in health insurance, but over thirty-one percent of these employees elected to save money and chose a less expensive, limited network plan, which will save the Commonwealth millions of dollars for the year.

"We assumed that five percent of employees would not re-enroll in health insurance and that we would need to pick their plan for them," said the GIC's Executive Director, Dolores L. Mitchell. "To reach almost full re-enrollment exceeded our most optimistic expectations."

The steps taken to ensure a successful enrollment included:

  • A comprehensive communications campaign, combined with outreach by GIC Benefit Coordinators and union officials: five home mailings complemented with email, website, press releases, pay advice messages, and 14 health fairs, three of which included sign language interpretation services;
  • A customized re-enrollment form that enabled employees to simply check and sign for their health plan choice and which could be scanned into the GIC's system for expedited processing; and
  • Those who did not respond were enrolled in health coverage by the GIC.

The incentive to join a limited network plan, which essentially offers the same benefits as the more expensive health plans, but with fewer physicians, hospitals, and other providers, was also a tremendous success. Before the enrollment, 19% of state employees were enrolled in limited network plans and that percentage jumped to 31% after annual enrollment. Employees who enrolled or re-enrolled in a limited network plan are estimated to save in premiums on average over $600 for an individual and over $1,400 for a family plan. The Commonwealth will also save money as the more expensive providers are not usually included in these networks.

"The state's new fiscal reality demands that we look toward creative solutions to controlling health care costs while continuing to provide quality health care," said Secretary of Administration and Finance Jay Gonzalez. "The GIC came up with an innovative strategy where both state workers and the Commonwealth save money, while continuing to provide state workers access to high-quality, lower cost health care providers." Ms. Mitchell added, "State employees stepped up to the plate to make this ground-breaking program a success. GIC Coordinators and staff made sure employees knew about the re-enrollment and took action, and worked hard to make it a smooth and successful campaign. The Administration is very appreciative of these efforts."

This information provided by the Group Insurance Commission .