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An act relative to access to health insurance for human service providers & employees

Bill No: S.540 | H.1408 | Read the Bill

Bill Sponsor: Sen. John Keenan and Rep. Kay Khan

Purpose of the Bill

This bill would allow providers to access the state’s Group Insurance Commission (GIC) in an effort to increase options for buying health insurance products and controlling insurance costs. Accessing the large buying power of the Group Insurance Commission could allow employers and employees alike to receive more affordable prices on health insurance. The commission would allow workers to purchase its current contracted products or could purchase a specific product for human services organizations and workers.

Key Facts:
  • While more than 98 percent of Providers’ Council members offer health insurance plans, only four of 10 employees elect to be covered. This is primarily due to cost.
  • After payroll, the largest expense and single most volatile expense for state-funded providers is health insurance.
  • Community-based human service workers earn as little as $12 an hour to provide state mandated and state funded services to residents on the Commonwealth’s behalf.
  • A recent survey of Council members noted they could save an average of $936 per year by moving to a GIC individual plan or $3,828 per year by moving to a GIC family plan.
  • A recent news story said GIC’s plans “are on average 20 percent lower than plans with broad networks.” Municipalities in the GIC saved $205 million from 2011 to 2013.
  • A major workforce that serves one in 10 Massachusetts residents is often not able to adequately care for itself due to low pay and huge increases in health insurance.
If passed, this legislation would:
  • Direct the Group Insurance Commission to either allow human services employees access to current health plan offerings or create plans specifically for these workers.
  • Save money for human services workers, community-based organizations and the Commonwealth, which must reimburse organizations for health insurance costs.
  • Request the Providers’ Council work with the Group Insurance Commission to find and secure data needed to identify the eligible population and implement the law.
  • Ensure human services workers would not receive credit toward state service for the purposes of securing a pension or be eligible for state retiree health insurance or other post-employment benefits.
  • Craft regulations allowing human services providers and workers access to plans through the Group Insurance Commission no later than January 1, 2018.

For more information: Email Bill Yelenak or call 617.428.3637 x122.