Boston Foundation Report on Muni Health Care

The Boston Foundation and the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation came out with a report on Municipal Health care in Massachusetts, and the report is not surprising. The Foundation and the MTF looked at the health care plans of 14 communities (Beverly, Boston, Chelsea, Franklin, Littleton, Marlboro, Marshfield, Medford, Norwell, Peabody, Salem, Somerville, West Springfield, and
Worcester) and stacked them up against the GIC, a federal employee plan, and private health care plans. The Findings?

municipalities provide employees with far more costly and generous health care benefits than those offered by other employers in both the public and private sectors. The study finds that municipal health plans have dramatically higher premiums than other public and private plans. One of the key factors driving municipal premiums is the virtual absence of any cost sharing in the form of deductibles or co-payments for office visits and other basic medical services.

The findings are further evidence of the need for statewide municipal health care reform. Not convinced?

For family coverage, the average municipal premium is $5,600, or 37 percent, higher than the average private sector premium, 33 percent more than the federal plan premium, and 21 percent more than the state’s GIC plans.

In the municipal plans, the average co-payment for a visit to a primary care physician (PCP) is only $11. State, federal, and private sector employees on average pay almost twice as much for visits to PCPs. Specialist visits averaged only $14 for municipal workers, while the co-pays were a minimum of $20 in the GIC plans, $30 for federal workers, and averaged $20 for private sector HMO plans.

Municipal employees pay less for generic prescriptions than other employees and the disparity grows
as drug prices increase along a three-tier scale. For a tier 3 prescription drug, municipal employees pay
$31 compared to $50 for most state and private workers in Massachusetts. Federal workers pay 30 percent of the cost for these same drugs.

I will do a post on how Methuen stacks up in these categories, but for now a focus on what these numbers mean clearly shows that in the area of municipal health care collective bargaining has not worked across Massachusetts. Ed Kelly of the Professional Firefighters talked about the issue in the Globe story on the report:

Yesterday, Ed Kelly, president of the state firefighters union, said unions are willing to take on more of the financial burden of health insurance, noting that public unions have steadily made concessions on health insurance since 2005.

But, he said, “it is imperative that unions continue to have collective bargaining rights to give a voice to workers and working families.’’

Based on the survey of those 14 communities I would have to say that it is hard to find those concessions. This issue is still being played out at the Legislature. The question remains the same. If the State continues to cut local aid how can they not help us to reduce our costs to ensure that local jobs and services are preserved? I have attached the full report at the bottom of this post.

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