Posted by Jeremy Shulkin
As part of City Manager Michael O’Brien’s budget presentation last night he offered some specifics in the GIC-like health insurance plans he wants all municipal unions to switch to before the start of FY 2012 (July 1, 2011).
Three new health care plans have been created: a new Blue Cross/Blue Shield network, Worcester Direct and two tiers of Worcester Advantage, both of which are Fallon plans. While the chart shows specific values for coverage this is all still subject to approval by the Insurance Advisory Committee, a group made up of local municipal union heads.
(Clicking on the image makes it legible.)
Through negotiations with Fallon and UMass the city brought down premium costs while, depending on the plan, copays either held steady or increased. Deductibles are offered where they previously were not. Diagnostic services, previously covered in full, now have out of pocket expenses. Premium-free incentives are also being offered to lure employees to the new Worcester plans.
In talking to various union heads over the past few weeks, one major sticking point for them is whether or not these are considered cost saving measures or “cost shuffling” measures. That is, they need to believe that money is genuinely being saved rather than the city just moving expenses on to the municipal workers. Of course, if they can’t come to an agreement, O’Brien and Superintendent Boone made it very clear last night that up to a combined 265 city and WPS jobs could be lost.