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Blue Cross honors Agawam for health insurance innovation

Date: 2/27/2015

AGAWAM – Blue Cross Blue Shield honored the town of Agawam as one of its Municipal Blue Award recipients on Feb. 18. The award recognizes municipalities that find innovative ways to contain the cost of health insurance.

Mayor Richard Cohen accepted the award and a $5,000 grant on behalf of the town, and was pleased.

“I was extremely happy and proud because I work hard and Blue Cross works hard for us to keep our cost down while still providing reasonable rates and quality health care, so it’s been a great partnership,” Cohen said.

Agawam was the only town in Western Massachusetts to have received the honors. Blue Cross recognized the town in large part because of its commitment to providing health insurance for retirees until the age of 65, when, by Massachusetts law, they must switch to Medicare.

“That’s always been something very important to me. Someone who has served our community for 30 years, we have a responsibility to take care of them until they’re 65,” Cohen said.

In addition to consistent support into retirement, the town recently switched to a new Medex drug plan that helped the town save money while still providing quality insurance, Cohen said.

The town also seeks collaborative input from its Insurance Advisory Committee. The committee helps to come up with new ways to control the rising cost of insurance with members of the Retirees Association, Blue Cross and the municipality.

“We work hard to maintain our costs, and this is just a nice example,” Cohen said. “It’s a nice reward to continue doing what we try to do every day, provide great services at reasonable cost.”

The recognition is not the only thing Agawam received. A $5,000 grant also came along with the honors. Though no definite plans have been made, Cohen said he would like to spend the grant money on new exercise equipment for the senior center.

“We haven’t spent it yet. That’s kind of where I’m leaning,” Cohen said. “It goes along with concept of taking care of retirees and healthy living. It fits the picture nicely.”