We are reaching out to share some upcoming changes to the City of Boston’s Non-Medicare health plans.

his past year has been full of uncertainty, and we want to make sure that you are informed of and prepared for the change in the City’s Non-Medicare health plans. It’s important to understand how and why the City of Boston and the Public Employee Committee (PEC) jointly came to these decisions, and what it will mean for you during the upcoming Annual Enrollment period and in the new plan year beginning on July 1, 2021.
What is happening?
Why is the City, together with the PEC, making these changes?Last year, the City of Boston and the PEC, the bargaining representative for Boston’s union employees and retirees with respect to health insurance for over a decade, worked together to reach an updated five-year agreement.  The agreement specifically included introducing a new Value Network HMO with a provider network focused on high quality, high performance, lower-cost providers in Massachusetts.

Together, we undertook a diligent review of the healthcare market to determine the competitiveness of our provider networks and fees.

Thanks to this careful review through a collaborative effort, the City and the PEC will be able to limit the impact of rising healthcare costs on our employees without compromising on quality access to care.
What does this mean for me?You should review your new healthcare options before the Annual Enrollment period. This year, Annual Enrollment will occur from Monday, April 26, 2021 through Friday, May 21, 2021.  It’s essential that you understand these changes to make the best choice for yourself and your family.

If you do not take action during the Annual Enrollment period, you will be automatically enrolled in the following plan effective July 1, 2021:

Current AllWays Standard HMO members will be automatically moved to the new AllWays Value Network HMO.Current HPHC Standard HMO members will be automatically moved to the BCBS Standard HMO (Network Blue New England).Current BCBS PPO (Blue Care Elect Preferred) members will remain in the BCBS PPO (Blue Care Elect Preferred).
While you are not required to take any action during Annual Enrollment, you can choose to move plans and add/remove dependents for the new plan year effective July 1, 2021.
What if I’m not sure what to do, and need additional information to decide?We know healthcare decisions can be complicated. Each individual and family has unique needs to consider. We encourage you to research your options, and we’ll be here to help you make the best choice for your needs.

Expect much more information from us over the coming weeks.To start, we’ll be mailing a comprehensive booklet to your homes in April.During Annual Enrollment, we will host virtual information sessions with morning, afternoon, and evening options available for you and your family to join.You’ll also have opportunities to speak to the health insurance carriers as a prospective member.
What happens next?If you are a current AllWays HMO member or Harvard Pilgrim Health Care (HPHC) HMO member:
In April, you will receive a letter from BCBS or AllWays only if your Primary Care Provider (PCP) is no longer covered as an in-network provider in your new plan. At that time, we recommend also verifying with your other providers and facilities to ensure they are in the network or identifying alternative providers you can utilize.For current HPHC HMO members only: in April, you will also receive a letter from BCBS if your prescription medications will no longer be covered under the BCBS Standard HMO plan.You will receive a new insurance card in June whether or not you chose to switch plans during the Annual Enrollment period.
If you are a current BCBS PPO member:In April, you will receive a letter from BCBS if your prescription medications will no longer be covered under the continued BCBS PPO plan.
In addition, the City of Boston/PEC agreement includes plan design changes effective July 1, 2021:
Value Network HMO (AllWays): No plan design changes from current AllWays Standard HMO
We expect you to have more questions and we will continue to provide answers.We can assure you that we will provide all the information you need to make an informed decision during Annual Enrollment. In the coming weeks, we will provide more information as it becomes available.
Please visit BOSTON.GOV/AE2021 for more resources to help you prepare for the upcoming annual enrollment period and make the best decision for yourself and your family.
Thank you for your attention to this matter. We understand that these changes are coming at a time of great uncertainty, but they are an important investment in Boston’s future. The City of Boston has been named the city best prepared to recover from the COVID-19 recession thanks to years of strong fiscal management. We appreciate your support as we navigate this change together.

Sincerely,

Chief Emme Handy, Chief of Administration & Finance

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