WBUR's Martha Bebinger reports that 31% of state employees are volunteering to move to lower cost health plans. It's a move that the Patrick administration says will save more than $20 million next year.
In exchange for moving to plans that limit which hospitals patients can use, these employees will not have to pay their share of premiums for three months. The state’s Group Insurance Commissioner Dolores Mitchell says she hopes many private employees will also switch to so-called "limited network" plans.
“We are interested in less expensive health care of a good quality, and where people maintain choice but where the most expensive simply isn’t going to cut it anymore,” Mitchell said.
Savings on state employee health insurance are part of a larger package of health care cost reductions already anticipated in next year’s state budget.
Here are some more details:
-- Mitchell says only one of the state’s limited network plans includes Massachusetts General Hospital and the Brigham & Women's Hospital, two Boston teaching hospitals run by the Partners HealthCare system.
-- In addition to at least $20 million in savings for the state, Mitchell says individuals who switch to the limited network plans will save $600 a year and families will save $1,400 on top of the 3 months in free premiums.
--These limited network plans are, on average 20% cheaper than plans that do not limit where state employees can receive care.
--All state employees were required to re-enroll in a health insurance plan: 99% made a choice. The remaining 1% will be automatically enrolled in the lowest cost plan.
This program aired on June 16, 2011. The audio for this program is not available.