GIC Makes it Official: No OPC Increases For FY21

GIC Makes it Official: No OPC Increases For FY21
GIC Meeting February, 6, 2020

Premium Rate Vote Coming February 27th

FEBRUARY 6, 2020: It’s official. There will be no increases in copayments or deductibles in FY21 under the health insurance plans sponsored by the state’s Group Insurance Commission (GIC).

Today’s vote by the 17-member Commission followed recommendations made by GIC staff in January. This means that prescription drug and office visit copayments, as well as annual deductibles will not increase during the next fiscal year beginning July 1.

The GIC is now negotiating with health insurance vendors to establish the monthly premiums. A vote on premiums is scheduled to take place on February 27th.

Health care experts anticipate overall GIC rates increasing between 4-5% on average, with specific rates dependent upon the health insurance plan. Increases with private sector rates in Massachusetts have averaged just over 5% in 2020. Experience shows that, year-over-year, both the GIC, as well as Blue Cross Blue Shield of Mass. have outperformed the health insurance marketplace in terms of controlling rising costs. While not a state GIC vendor, Blue Cross is the dominant player in municipal health insurance coverage across Massachusetts.

“After several years where we witnessed steadily rising out-of-pocket costs (OPC), we are very pleased that things have finally leveled off. We are very concerned about the ability of retirees to afford high OPC. This is especially true of our older members, who have been retired for a number of years and may not qualify for Medicare,” says Mass Retirees General Counsel Bill Rehrey, who was present at the Thursday morning GIC meeting. “There is a limit to what retirees can be expected to pay. We are very grateful to the GIC for holding the line on increased costs, at least in the immediate future. 

Rising insurance costs are the direct result of the cost of health care products and delivery of services. Since nearly all of the GIC sponsored insurance plans are self-insured by the state, insurance administration fees are minimal. Cost increases are the direct result of the high cost of healthcare itself.

“We should remind members that FY21 marks the 3rd year for the current contract with insurance providers. While the GIC can extend these contracts through FY23, we need to carefully monitor developments heading into 2021. As they say, nothing is ever guaranteed. This is especially true when it comes to health insurance, with the costs and details of plan design always subject to change,” continued Rehrey.

Those insured under the GIC should also be aware that open enrollment takes place during the month of April. During this time the GIC plans to hold 9 health fairs across the state, beginning on April 10th in Pittsfield. Mass Retirees will publish the dates, times and locations of all 9 fairs once the information is made available. Retirees or active employees seeking to make a change in coverage or with questions regarding your insurance are highly encouraged to attend a health fair. Open enrollment is the one opportunity each year to change insurance coverage.