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City, town health plans most costly, report says

Posted April 5, 2011 11:09 AM

Health insurance plans to cover city and town employees cost 37 percent more than similar plans for workers at private companies, mostly because municipal employees pay minimal copayments or deductibles when they get care, according to a new statewide survey.

The 20-page report from the Boston Foundation and Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation concludes that cities and towns must substantially increase the amounts their employees are required to pay in out-of-pocket expenses for medical office visits and other services and to significantly increase their deductibles. Otherwise, municipalities will see insurance eat up an ever-increasing share of their budget.

“The issue is cost-sharing, and right now the cost-sharing of municipal employees is minuscule,’’ said Bob Carey, author of the report. “Cost sharing must go up. It’s way out of synch with the rest of the employer market.’’

Taking the report’s advice would force tens of thousands of municipal employees statewide to pay hundreds or even thousands more annually for health care. The rising costs, in turn would probably influence those employees to choose less costly insurance plans and medical services and, in some cases, to forgo some services, the report says.

Read the rest of the story by the Globe's Sean P. Murphy.

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