For Immediate Release - March 05, 2014

Group Insurance Commission Approves 1.0 Percent Premium Increase; Lowest Increase In Over 10 Years

New Health Care Delivery and Payment Model Drives Commonwealth’s Health Care Cost Containment Success

BOSTON – Wednesday, March 5, 2014 - Building on Governor Patrick’s efforts to lower costs and ensure access to quality, affordable health care, the Group Insurance Commission (GIC) today voted for an overall 1.0 percent increase for all employee and Medicare plans for fiscal year (FY) 2015,  the lowest rate increase in over 10 years.  As a result of the landmark health care cost containment law, signed by Governor Patrick in 2012, the GIC is transforming health care delivery and payment. Today’s vote demonstrates the success of the GIC model in driving the Commonwealth’s health care cost containment reform.

According to Mercer’s National Survey of Employer-Sponsored Health Plans, GIC rate increases are lower than national employer trends, which are predicted to increase 2.1 percent in 2014 and increase by another 5.2 percent in 2015.  While other employers are controlling costs through enrollment restrictions and benefit cuts, the GIC has taken a different approach through an innovative program called Centered Care which seeks to change how health care is delivered and paid for.  The GIC’s Centered Care program puts Primary Care Providers in a central role in patients’ health care coordination and engages providers and health plans in managing health care dollars more efficiently.

“I thank the GIC for their commitment to finding innovative solutions to lower the cost of health care, saving money for both our families and state government,” said Governor Patrick. “I am proud of the progress we are making in Massachusetts to create a health care system that is accessible and affordable for all of residents.”

“The GIC is helping to drive change in the Massachusetts health care delivery system through better care coordination which translates into cost savings for the Commonwealth and higher quality health care for its members,” said Glen Shor, Secretary of the Executive Office of Administration and Finance. 

In 2013 the GIC’s health plans all signed five year contracts that included a spending cap schedule.  By managing health care spending, the GIC is helping to hold down costs for Commonwealth taxpayers and GIC members.

“The Centered Care program was integral in helping GIC achieve these record low premium rates,” said Dolores L. Mitchell, the GIC’s Executive Director.  “While we have made great strides, the GIC will continue to work with our health plans to achieve even greater success in health care cost containment.”  

For FY2015, the GIC’s carriers include: Fallon Health, Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, Health New England, Neighborhood Health Plan, Tufts Health Plan and UniCare.

During Annual Enrollment, which takes place April 9 through May 7, employees and retirees will have the opportunity to learn more about Centered Care and to weigh their benefit options.  The health plans will be reaching out to GIC members to acquire Primary Care Provider information.  Additionally, approximately 5,000 employees and retirees from the towns of East Bridgewater, Framingham and Middleborough will be joining the GIC’s health program and North Andover retirees will be joining the GIC’s Retiree Dental Program, an option made available to participating municipalities through recent legislation and first offered last year. 

The GIC was established by the Legislature in 1955 to provide health, life, and other benefits to state employees, retirees, and their dependents. The GIC also covers housing and redevelopment authorities' personnel, participating municipalities, and retired municipal employees and teachers in certain governmental units. There are currently over 220,000 members and 413,000 people covered by the GIC. A seventeen-member commission representing labor, retirees, municipal management, the public interest, the Administration, and expertise in health economics governs the GIC.