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GIC Health Benefits and the COVID-19 Outbreak

The GIC provides several resources to help members cope with the COVID-19 Pandemic.
Click here to contact the GIC during the COVID-19 Pandemic.

Please note that due to the impacts from COVID-19 our response time may be delayed.

Download Flyer - GIC is responding to the COVID-19 event

Table of Contents

Check your symptoms for COVID-19 online using Buoy Health

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts has partnered with Buoy Health to give Massachusetts residents free access to a powerful digital tool that uses self-reported information to assess the risk for the Coronavirus in just minutes.

Please note that the Buoy Tool is not to be used in place of professional medical advice, care or treatment by a physician. For medical care, please contact your provider. For medical emergencies, call 911

Here’s how it works:

  1. Log on to Buoy.com/mass
  2. Tell Buoy’s Symptom Checker about your symptoms and risk factors
  3. Learn through Buoy.com whether you are a candidate for COVID-19 testing
  4. Get recommended next steps and information on available resources

Benefit Eligibility of Furloughed Employees

Pursuant to M.G.L. Ch. 32A, § 3 and Ch. 32B §11, the Group Insurance Commission is charged with issuing information and advisory rulings in accordance with the provisions of Ch. 30A, §8. Under that authority, we issue this advisory bulletin concerning GIC benefit eligibility of employees who have been furloughed during the COVID-19 pandemic.

During this period, when all our members are struggling with the impact of COVID-19, the GIC prioritizes any member request to: (1) retain benefits to avoid a lapse in current insurance coverage, (2) access new benefits to which they are entitled without delay, and (3) limit or relieve, to the extent possible,financial burdens by prioritizing life insurance claim processing and by allowing reduction or elimination of optional benefits.

Under the Department of Unemployment Assistance 430 CMR 22.00: COVID-19 Emergency Regulations, claimants temporarily unemployed due to COVID-19 with an expected return-to-work date are classified as “Standby Status.” Standby status is meant to help both employers and their employees in situations where the unemployment is expected to be temporary.

The GIC, in keeping with this definition and the three priorities outlined above, considers employees furloughed due to the COVID-19 pandemic to be GIC benefit-eligible provided that the employee and employer share of premiums continue to be paid. GIC does not require participating employers to report furloughs and will continue to bill participating employers for all existing participating employees in the normal course of business. If at some point in the future a furloughed employee’s status changes to a non-COVID-19 layoff or termination, the participating employer should notify GIC so it can take the appropriate steps concerning the employee’s coverage.

If you have questions regarding this bulletin, please submit an inquiry through the GIC Online Contact Form and select the GIC Coordinator option.

Additional Resources

Extending Annual Enrollment and triaging submitted requests

In the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak, the GIC is working to ensure the health
and safety of the public and accommodate
the important needs of our members
and staff by:

  • Extending the Annual Enrollment deadline from Friday, May 1 to Monday, June 1, 2020 to provide more time for members to review options and get questions answered by GIC Coordinators
  • Promoting member use of the GIC Online Contact Form at www.mass.gov/gic in lieu of telephone calls to help us manage priorities and volume
  • Canceling walk-in customer service at 19 Staniford Street, Boston, until further notice
  • Canceling the Annual Benefit Fairs in accordance with limits on large public gatherings
  • Distributing all Benefit Decision Guides online at www.mass.gov/gic with print distribution for Retired Municipal Teachers, Municipal Employees and Retirees, and Elderly Government Retirees only as local capacity allows
  • Instituting a triage system for processing subscriber and new employee requests to prioritize critical requests in the event our staffing and processing capabilities are reduced

Remember: If you take no action, your coverage will continue automatically, your new premium deductions will begin in the June pay period, and your new coverage will be effective July 1, 2020.

If you do submit a change to your coverage election by Monday, June 1, 2020, GIC staff will process it based on the triage guidelines below to ensure that we support our members who are trying to:

  1. Retain access to existing benefits: like enrolling in COBRA coverage upon leaving state employment or in Medicare upon retirement, or processing premium payments for members without payroll deduction
  2. Gain access to your available benefits:  like enrolling new employees who are electing coverage for the first time, or enrolling existing employees who lost coverage previously provided by a spouse or parent
  3. Limit the financial burden of optional benefits: like reducing or eliminating additional life insurance coverage or long-term disability insurance

This means that changes you elect may not go into effect on July 1, 2020. If that is the case, you are still covered by your current health plan.

Once we process your coverage change, you will see the new plan deduction in the month prior to coverage going into effect.

Get answers about your eligibility and enrollment status from GIC

  1. Submit a GIC Online Contact Form at mass.gov/gic This allows you to ask your question, give us your email or phone number, and even a preferred time of day for a call back
  2. Mail correspondence to P.O. Box 556, Randolph, MA 02368:  This allows us to scan your document directly to our customer service system and create a case for handling by our staff
  3. Call GIC’s central number during normal business hours at 1.617.727.2310:  This allows you to speak to a GIC staff member during normal business hours. This option may not be available if the building is closed or work is suspended. In the event that the building is closed, please visit mass.gov/gic for more information

Get answers about plan coverage details from your current or prospective health carrier

To access medical testing if you suspect you might have COVID-19

Call your medical provider first. Do not use public transportation, ride sharing services, or taxis.

It is critical that if you suspect you have contracted COVID-19 that you first call your medical provider or medical facility to ensure they are capable of safely receiving, assessing, testing and treating you without risking further exposure and transmission.

You can also check with a physician through your telehealth benefit to determine whether you need to be tested.

Get help with stress and anxiety specifically related to the COVID-19 outbreak

The Optum toll-free Emotional Support Help  Line is available to all GIC-eligible public employees and their dependents, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

1-866-342-6892

This support is provided through GIC’s Mass4YOU Employee Assistance Program (EAP).

This help line is available at no cost.  You do not have to be enrolled in a GIC Health Insurance plan to use it.

All calls are confidential in accordance with the law.

To access the full spectrum of work-life balance services

To access the full spectrum of work-life balance services offered to all GIC-eligible public employees and their dependents

Call the Commonwealth’s toll-free Mass4YOU Employee Assistance Program 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

1-844-263-1982

liveandworkwell.com 

All calls are confidential in accordance with the law.

To access medical or behavioral health care without leaving home

All GIC health carriers already offer telehealth capabilities to support remote access to care through telephone, smartphone, tablet, laptop or desktop computers.

All carriers have been instructed to waive all telehealth copays to promote its use.

Check this list of telehealth resources by health carrier or look on the back of your GIC health insurance card.

AllWays Health Partners - ondemand.partners.org

Fallon Health - member.teladoc.com/fallon

Harvard Pilgrim Health Care - doctorondemand.com

Health New England - healthnewengland.org/teladoc

Tufts Health Plan - Via Teladoc app on the app store

UniCare - livehealthonline.com

To access your prescription medications without leaving home

Contact your preferred retail pharmacy to ask if they offer home delivery. Some retailers, including CVS, are offering free home delivery during this emergency.

If your preferred retail pharmacy does not offer free home delivery, you may use the mail order service available through both Express Scripts and CVS Silverscript. To learn more about the mail order programs:

express-scripts.com

silverscript.com

For any COVID-19 related insurance claim

The GIC has directed all its health carriers to waive:

  1. co-pays and deductibles associated with COVID-19 testing
  2. co-pays for claims associated with COVID-19 treatment.

Medical providers will enter specific codes for testing and treatment related to COVID-19, and those claims will be subject to automated processes for waiver or reimbursement.

Contact

Phone

Main Phone (617) 727-2310

M-F 8:45 a.m.-5 p.m.

TDD/TTY 711

Fax

Operations (617) 227-2681
Executive (617) 227-5181
Fiscal (617) 367-9874

Address

Street Address
19 Staniford St
Boston, MA 02114
Enrollment Form and Member Correspondence Mailing Address
PO Box 556
Randolph, MA 02368
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