MNHG Insurance Pool Discontinuing Benefits

For decades, we’ve highlighted the important role that joint purchasing groups (JPGs) have played in providing quality affordable health insurance for retirees and their families across the state. We also refer to JPGs as local insurance pools.

One of the long-established pools is the Minuteman Nashoba Health Group (MNHG) that has been operational since December 1990 – some 34 years. MNHG is governed by its participating public employers through a Board and a Steering Committee.

MNHG employers pool risk, and the Group self-funds health plans with reinsurance protection for high-cost claims. As of March 2021, MNHG had 6,788 covered members (employee/retiree plus dependents). Carrier options under MNHG were Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, Tufts Health Plan and Fallon on the Medicare side. See the list of the towns and governmental units participating currently in the MNHG.

According to Association Legislative Liaison and PEC Coordinator Nancy McGovern, “In early December we were notified that MNHG would no longer administer benefits for its participating communities come July 1, 2024. It’s noteworthy that several of the communities had gone to bid, prior to the vote of the MNHG governing bodies to discontinue benefits, purely as a result of the significant rate increases that would be incurred during the next plan year.

“But, others were completely in the dark, leaving both management and members in flux with a short window of time to seek alternatives. Unfortunately, the timing of the decision and notification also removed the option of entering the Group Insurance Commission (GIC) as it was beyond the December 1 notification deadline of the GIC.”

When we went to press, Mass Retirees officials were aware that the Towns of Ayer, Concord, Groton, Pepperell, Phillipston and Stow have entered into contracts with the Massachusetts Interlocal Insurance Association (MIIA) to provide benefits to the retirees and active members as of July 1, 2024. See related MIIA report on page 7. We are awaiting information on the remaining communities and school districts in the purchasing group.

McGovern continued, “We wanted to note that none of these changes or the current discussions possibly being had in the remaining communities have occurred under any coalition bargaining process. This has left our members without a formal voice at the table once again.

“We have been kept abreast of these changes due to information we have received from members as well as the partnerships we have with our friends in labor as well as the carriers we work closely with. Please remain vigilant when it comes to health insurance and reach out to me and Shawn (Duhamel) should you have questions or concerns.

“We want to make it very clear that no retiree or employee from these communities will be left without health insurance coverage. While the situation is not ideal, everyone will remain fully insured. We will continue to closely monitor this issue and will keep members informed of new developments.”

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