Senior products will be available from UniCare and Tufts Health Plan.


The Group Insurance Commission (GIC) held a meeting Thursday morning to discuss plan offering for FY19. There was a vote to eliminate Harvard Pilgrim Health Care,  Tufts Health Plan, and Fallon Health from their active employee plan offerings effective 7/1/2018. The only carriers available to active members will be UniCare, Neighborhood Health Plan, and Health New England. Geographically, there will be some municipalities that will only have UniCare available.

Senior products will be available from UniCare and Tufts Health Plan. All Pharmacy benefits will be uniformly offered through Express Scripts for all non-Medicare plans.

The vote passed by:
YES – 8
NO – 5

Please see the email (below) from Robert Herman, Executive Director of the GIC regarding this meeting.

Dear GIC Member,

Today, the Group Insurance Commission (GIC) voted to approve recommendations stemming from a year-long procurement process, which has been widely socialized and shared with our Commission throughout. This will result in changes to our current health plan vendors, effective July 1, 2018.


The GIC is making these changes to provide the greatest benefits to the GIC and its members. Through this decision, we will move from a patchwork of carriers offering similar benefits and services to a model that provides meaningful choice, sustainability and simplification for each of you. More specifically, we will transition from 6 carriers to 3 for active employees and non-Medicare retirees (Commercial enrollees), from 5 carriers to 2 for Medicare enrollees and from 6 carriers to 1 for our Pool 2 enrollees.

Please note: members will not experience a loss in health care coverage and the GIC’s goal is for members to keep their current physicians and hospitals with comparable coverage and benefits after plan migration.

What’s Changing and When?

Effective July 1, 2018, the GIC will offer health plans from the following vendors:

  • Commercial: Unicare, Neighborhood Health Plan and Health New England
  • Medicare: Unicare, Tufts
  • Pool 2 Offering: Unicare
  • Carriers being eliminated: Harvard Pilgrim, Fallon, Tufts (Commercial only)

We are also planning to uniformly carve-out pharmacy benefits to ExpressScripts for Commercial and Pool 2 members, and will retain CVS/SilverScript for Medicare enrollees.

As a result of this change, nearly half of members will be able to retain their current health plan carrier. GIC members from impacted health plans will automatically migrate into new health plans, and will have the opportunity to select a new plan during annual enrollment, if desired.

Additional Opportunities to be Heard

Your voice is important and the GIC wants to ensure that you have the opportunity to share your input about future plan and benefit designs.

Starting tomorrow, Friday, January 19th in Worcester, the GIC will embark on a series of public hearings across the state. More details on the times and locations of these public hearings can be found below. As a reminder, this series is in addition to the Listening Tours and member survey that were conducted in the fall to solicit public input before any decisions were made.

Final benefit decisions will be voted on by the Commission on February 1st and rates for final plans will be decided on February 22nd

You can stay informed on this issue by visiting our website at or by calling the GIC’s Main Line at 617-727-2310.


Roberta Herman
Executive Director
Group Insurance Commission

Live Well Planner


Introducing the
2018 GBS Live Well Planner

These days, you may feel overwhelmed with all the health information available to you. However, there are really only a few basic tips to keep in mind for your optimal health. According to experts, doing the following things can help you achieve total wellness and keep costly, chronic conditions at bay:

• Eat healthy.
• Get regular physical activity.
• Maintain a healthy weight.
• Manage your stress.
• Visit a primary care physician regularly for checkups.

Doing all of these things, however, can be difficult. This Live Well Planner is designed to make living a healthy lifestyle easier. The GBS Live Well Planner provides you with the tools you need to feel and live healthier than ever before. Each month features exercise, diet and overall wellness articles, while each week provides you with plenty of space to plan your meals, log your workouts, plan your daily activities and appointments—or all of the above!

Each week also offers a “Tip of the Week” designed to help you stay on track and offers a section where you can write down your goals for each week. As an added bonus, the last page of every month will feature two healthy, easy and delicious recipes for you to try. The nutritional information for these recipes is also included.

Staying organized, planning your workouts and meals, and having access to wellness information and healthy recipes is a great way to get yourself on track to achieve your wellness goals. However, please remember that you should speak with a medical professional before you begin a diet and fitness regimen. You and your doctor together can decide the best diet and fitness plan, create reasonable goals and establish a safe, tenable timeline for you to achieve your wellness goals.


Printing out this Live Well Planner is recommended. If you prefer to print out the planner on a month-by-month basis, please follow these instructions:

1. Choose the “Print” option from the “File” menu.
2. Under the “Settings” option, click on the arrow next to “Print All Pages” to access the drop-down menu.
3. Select “Custom Print” and enter the page number range you would like to print, or enter the page number range you would like to print in the “Pages” box.
4. Click “Print.”

Printable Version




Furnishing Deadline Delayed for 2017 ACA Reporting


On Dec. 22, 2017, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issued Notice 2018-06 to:

• Extend the due date for furnishing forms under Sections 6055 and 6056 for 2017 for 30 days, from Jan. 31, 2018, to March 2, 2018
• Extend good-faith transition relief from penalties related to 2017 information reporting under Sections 6055 and 6056.
Notice 2018-06 does not extend the due date for filing forms with the IRS for 2017. The due date for filing with the IRS under Sections 6055 and 6056 remains Feb. 28, 2018 (April 2, 2018, if filing electronically).


The IRS is encouraging reporting entities to furnish statements as soon as they are able. No request or other documentation is required to take advantage of the extended deadline.

Section 6055 and 6056 Reporting
Sections 6055 and 6056 were added to the Internal Revenue Code (Code) by the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

• Section 6055 applies to providers of minimum essential coverage (MEC), such as health insurance issuers and employers with self-insured health plans. These entities will generally use Forms 1094-B and 1095-B to report information about the coverage they provided during the previous year.

Section 6056 applies to applicable large employers (ALEs)—generally, those employers with 50 or more full-time employees, including full-time equivalents, in the previous year. ALEs will use Forms 1094-C and 1095-C to report information relating to the health coverage that they offer (or do not offer) to their full-time employees

Extended Furnishing Deadline

The IRS has again determined that some employers, insurers and other providers of MEC need additional time to gather and analyze the information and prepare the 2017 Forms 1095-B and 1095-C to be furnished to individuals. Therefore, Notice 2018-06 provides an additional 30 days for furnishing the 2017 Form 1095-B and Form 1095-C, extending the due date from Jan. 31, 2018, to March 2, 2018.

Despite the delay, employers and other coverage providers are encouraged to furnish 2017 statements to individuals as soon as they are able.

Filers are not required to submit any request or other documentation to the IRS to take advantage of the extended furnishing due date provided by Notice 2018-06. Because this extended furnishing deadline applies automatically to all reporting entities, the IRS will not grant additional extensions of time of up to 30 days to furnish Forms 1095-B and 1095-C. As a result, the IRS will not formally respond to any requests that have already been submitted for 30-day extensions of time to furnish statements for 2017.

Impact on Filing Deadline

The IRS has determined that there is no need for additional time for employers, insurers and other providers of MEC to file 2017 forms with the IRS. Therefore, Notice 2018-06 does not extend the due date for filing Forms 1094-B, 1095-B, 1094-C or 1095-C with the IRS for 2017. This due date remains:

  • February 28, 2018, if filing on paper; or
  • April 2, 2018, if filing electronically (since March 31, 2018, is a Saturday).

Because the due dates are unchanged, potential automatic extensions of time for filing information returns are still available under the normal rules by submitting a Form 8809. The notice also does not affect the rules regarding additional extensions of time to file under certain hardship conditions.

Filers are not required to submit a request or other documentation to the IRS to take advantage of the extended furnishing due date provided by Notice 2018-06.

Employers or other coverage providers that do not meet the due dates for filing and furnishing (as extended under the rules described above) under Sections 6055 and 6056 are subject to penalties under Section 6722 or Section 6721 for failure to furnish and file on time. However, employers and other coverage providers that do not meet the relevant due dates should still furnish and file. The IRS will take this into consideration when determining whether to abate penalties for reasonable cause.

Impact on Individuals

Because of the extended furnishing deadline, some individual taxpayers may not receive a Form 1095-B or Form 1095-C by the time they are ready to file their 2017 tax returns. Taxpayers may rely on other information received from their employer or other coverage provider for purposes of filing their returns, including determining eligibility for an Exchange subsidy and confirming that they had MEC for purposes of the individual mandate.

Taxpayers do not need to wait to receive Forms 1095-B and 1095-C before filing their 2017 returns. In addition, individuals do not need to send the information they relied upon to the IRS when filing their returns, but should keep it with their tax records.

Extension of Good-faith Transition Relief from Penalties for 2017

Notice 2018-06 also extends transition relief from penalties for providing incorrect or incomplete information to reporting entities that can show that they have made good-faith efforts to comply with the Sections 6055 and 6056 reporting requirements for 2017 (both for furnishing to individuals and for filing with the IRS).

This relief applies to missing and inaccurate taxpayer identification numbers and dates of birth, as well as other information required on the return or statement. No relief is provided for reporting entities that:

  • Do not make a good-faith effort to comply with the regulations; or
  • Fail to file an information return or furnish a statement by the due dates (as extended).

In determining good faith, the IRS will take into account whether a reporting entity made reasonable efforts to prepare for reporting the required information to the IRS and furnishing it to individuals (such as gathering and transmitting the necessary data to an agent to prepare the data for submission to the IRS or testing its ability to transmit information to the IRS). The IRS will also take into account the extent to which the reporting entity is taking steps to ensure that it will be able to comply with the reporting requirements for 2018.

Contact GBS

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GBS Workplace Wellness Programs

Workplace Wellness Programs

This video provides a sample of the workplace wellness resources available through Group Benefits Strategies.

A Wellness Program gives you the employer an opportunity to offer your employees  discounts, cash rewards, gym memberships, and other incentives to participate. GBS can create a comprehensive wellness program for your team with programs including smoking cessation, diabetes management , weight loss , and preventative health screenings.

For more information contact

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What is an HSA?

What is an HSA?

This 90-second video breaks down how a health savings account (HSA) works and why employees should consider one.

If you have questions about HSA’s or anything relating to employee benefit programs, please contact us using the form below.

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