Health Insurance Update

The PEC and the City of Quincy have settled a new 6-year agreement on health insurance that will maintain plan designs for 6 years, including copays and deductibles, and will be managed through Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts.

The PEC has scheduled a number of informational meetings around the city in order to bring our members the information they need regarding this Tentative Agreement.  We’ve already held 2 out of our 4 scheduled Informational Meetings.  The remaining two meetings are:

  • Wednesday, Oct. 11 from 5 to 7 p.m. at Central Middle School
  • Thursday, Oct. 12 from 3:15 to 5:15 p.m. at Quincy High School

Please encourage your colleagues to attend these important meetings.  Reps from Blue Cross as well as the PEC and our consultant John Brouder from Boston Benefits Partners will all be there to help answer your questions.  These informational meetings are open to all city employees, whether or not in a union.

Information will be sent out to all QEA members early next week, as well as a Call to Meeting notice later next week.  Please HOLD THE DATE of OCTOBER 25, 3:15 p.m. at QHS for the QEA general meeting on health insurance — a binding vote will be taken at this meeting.  Please note BC Reps will NOT be present at our Oct. 25 general meeting.  If folks have questions for BC, please encourage them to attend an informational meeting.

A few points:

This Tentative Agreement is the result of many months of planning and bargaining by the City of Quincy and the Public Employees Committee.  The PEC is made up of representatives from every public sector union in the city.  We came together as a group and bargained as a group — our work together on this is unprecedented, and I’m extremely proud of how well we all worked together.

This Tentative Agreement has 100% support from every PEC Rep, representing every local in the city.  The entire PEC strongly recommends this agreement.

This agreement is the end result of months of planning and bargaining by the City of Quincy and the Public Employees Committee. The PEC is made up of representatives from every public sector union in the city — all unionized public employees were represented at the table.  Meetings began last winter and accelerated over the summer and into September. The PEC hired an outside consultant, John Brouder, from Boston Benefits Partners. QEA also brought its MTA field rep, Steve Day, to the table to assist in planning and negotiating with the city.

When QEA votes on this Tentative Agreement on Oct. 25, please know that a no vote will not result in further bargaining.  A no vote will send us back into the GIC for a minimum of 2 years.  The state deadline to notify GIC is Dec. 1.  If we do not have this agreement approved by a majority of the PEC by then, we are stuck in the GIC for 2 years.

QEA carries nearly 40% of the weighted vote on the PEC.  Retirees have 10%, and other unions have smaller percentages, all based on the number of benefits-eligible members.  QEA has 980 members out of 2218 active city employees, so our numbers are the highest and, therefore, our weighted vote is the highest.  A majority of votes is needed to pass this Tentative Agreement, which means 50% plus 1 of our local unions need to approve.

The QEA general meeting will be open to all 4 QEA units:  Units A & C from QPS and Units D & E from Quincy College.  We are hoping to use paper ballots and to keep balloting open until 5 p.m. to allow any latecomers the opportunity to vote.

Our consultant, John Brouder (hired by the PEC, not the city or BCBS) says this about our Quincy agreement:

“Since 2001 most working people have experienced a steady deterioration of the value of their health insurance plan.  Premiums went up every year, far faster than wages.  Quincy tried the GIC option but every other year members were hit with new deductibles, copays or both.  The Quincy Public Employees Committee has negotiated a six year agreement with the city which will maintain copays and deductibles at their current level for the length of the agreement, and will use Blue Cross, the state’s largest insurance carrier, to manage costs going forward.  In today’s healthcare environment this is a huge victory for retirees and employees.”

As you will see in the Summary of the Tentative Agreement, the PEC did give up contribution split changes.  We did so in order to gain a longer contract with the guarantee of the same plan design for all 6 years.  The landscape of health insurance for the foreseeable future, and with the GIC specifically, is not good.  We are confident the plans we are looking at today in this Tentative Agreement, will no longer be available through GIC in the next year or two.

We were able to hold HMO splits steady at the current 85/15 for the first 4 years of this agreement.  The Blue Cross HMO plan is robust, with an expansive network of coverage, and should fit most members’ needs.  There will be a PPO for active employees as well, and two plans for Medicare-eligible retirees.

We were able to maintain a Section 19 PEC, in order to protect retirees and guarantee their contribution splits remain the same as active employees.

If this Tentative Agreement is approved, plan design, including copays and deductibles WILL NOT CHANGE for Quincy employees for the next 6 years. This is a huge victory in light of current health insurance trends.

This agreement will go into effect on July 1, 2018, pending approval.  It will run 6 years, ending on June 30, 2024.

Premiums for next year, FY19, are attached. By MA law, we are unable to secure premium rates for anything beyond 1 year.

The outlook for GIC is that the plans we see today won’t exist in a couple years, and instead, GIC will only be offering either high deductible or local area network plans.  GIC rates, copays and deductibles are ALL unknowns for next year and the years beyond.

Please contact Allison Cox at quincyteachers@gmail.com with any questions on this.