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Coughlin & O’Donnell Bill to Save Property Tax Dollars through Better Monitoring of Health Insurance Claims Now Law

Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Craig Coughlin and Jason O’Donnell to help save money on the rising cost of health insurance for public entities, such as municipalities and school districts, participating in the state’s health benefits plans has been signed into law.

The new law (A-1273) will require the State Health Benefits Program (SHBP), School Employees Health Benefits Program (SEHBP), and public joint insurance funds to share their health insurance claims data, free of charge, with participating public entities.

The sponsors noted that the state Treasury Department, which administers both programs, currently provides health insurance claims data in the aggregate for approximately $2,000 per request. The new law will give more detailed claims data free of charge from which public bodies can shop the private market for new coverage plans.

“When municipalities and school boards seek to obtain competitive prices, insurance carriers must see the claims data for the group of individuals that they would be insuring. For years, public entities participating in the state’s two health insurance programs would be trapped because the benefits programs would only share inadequate information frustrating the public entities efforts and causing prospective insurers to shy away from considering a private bid,” said Coughlin (D-Middlesex). “Public entities ought to have their claims information in order to shop the private market for a better, more cost-efficient plan for their employees and taxpayers.”

“We crafted this legislation with the intention of ensuring that all public employees with SHBP and SEHBP-provided insurance will be protected under the federal HIPAA laws and regulations,” said O’Donnell (D-Hudson). “Furthermore, the new law allows public entities to acquire this information free of charge. We owe it to our public entities to give them the best chance of saving tax payer dollars while providing their employees with an appropriate level of health insurance coverage.”