New report from big time Boston think tanks Rappaport Institute and Collins Center says there's gold in them thar GIC hills:
The study finds that, by joining the Group Insurance Commission (GIC), Springfield cut increases in its health care costs an estimated $14 million to $18 million over two years. It saved an additional $5 million per year by requiring eligible municipal retirees to enroll in Medicare Part B as a precondition of receiving supplemental health coverage from the City. These two actions, together, reduced increases in the City’s health care costs an estimated 15-19% annually, on average, with savings growth each year due to compounding. Furthermore, the study estimates that if the GIC continues its past pattern of keeping its cost increases lower than those experienced by other large Massachusetts cities, the City will save another $42 million to $64 million over the next three fiscal years, not including Medicare savings. It is especially noteworthy that Springfield’s employees and retirees also benefited from the shift to the GIC, because the GIC offered them lower premiums, reduced out-of-pocket expenses, and a wider choice of insurance plans.
Wow. I don't know what those health plans were like beforehand, but it sounds like they were completely unsustainable … In any event, Springfield saved itself some serious scratch. I hope other municipal unions will give this a second or third look, since a little adjustment and flexibility with this might save some of their jobs these days.