Seeing higher rates, NYC to put health-insurance contract to bid

EmblemHealth is on notice

August 2, 2013 By Karen Matthews Associated Press
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Faced with annual health insurance costs of $6.3 billion, New York City is putting its health care contract out to bid, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Friday.

Bloomberg said the bid has not gone out yet but current health-insurance provider EmblemHealth has already chosen not to seek a rate increase for the next fiscal year.

“It just tells you how grossly overpriced some of these services are,” Bloomberg said on his radio show on WOR. “They’ve raised our rates every year for the last 15 years.”

EmblemHealth said in a statement, “We look forward to continuing to provide high value health and wellness services for the city and its unions.”

Bloomberg said his administration is working with the Municipal Labor Committee, a coalition of city unions, to develop a request for proposals for the health-insurance contract.

Municipal Labor Committee Chairman Harry Nespoli said the unions won’t object to seeking competitive bids “if we can save the taxpayers money and still keep the quality of health care for the workers.”

Michael Mulgrew, head of the United Federation of Teachers, said, “I’m glad we were able to work with the provider to make things more affordable and we’ll continue to do that.”

Bloomberg said city workers can get better care at a lower price if the marketplace determines who gets the contract.

“Through some of the most difficult economic challenges New York City has faced, we’ve balanced budgets, strengthened services and invested in our future, leaving our city on firm financial footing,” he said in a statement. “But that security is being threatened by health care costs that have grown at an exponential rate and are swallowing more and more of the budget, taking dollars away from public safety, education and all the areas so vital to our future.”

Bloomberg said health care costs for the approximately 1 million city employees, retirees and dependents covered under city plans have doubled since he took office in 2002.

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