The Associated Press today reported that Gov. Deval Patrick and the Democratically controlled state legislature will begin to explore the way health care is paid and delivered (fee -for -service model) in an effort to “reign in spiraling insurance costs”.
Massachusetts has the highest rate of premium increases since the enactment of the 2006 universal care legislation (Thank you, Mitt!). The Congressional Budget Office estimates 10-13% increases in premiums in 2016. Small companies, who make up 90% of Massachusetts business, already are hurting and have seen their costs increase 15%, according to a survey by the Retailer’s Association of Massachusetts. Even the state subsidized Commonwealth Care has seen a 5% increase and recently 200,000 seniors have lost their Medicare Advantage (Harvard Pilgrim) policies under Obamacare. Another 250,000 residents were forced to upgrade their policies (at increased cost) with prescription drug coverage because of Board mandates, according to the Council for Affordable Health Insurance
Maybe they should instead explore the true reasons for escalating costs and choose to review:
- Defined contributions from employers and employees by creating a state exchange that small businesses can utilize that promotes free market solutions which enable consumer choice and ownership, including “portable” policies and aggregate premiums for individuals who have several employers.
- Eliminate mandates. The minimum creditable coverage includes 17 coverage requirements and 28 benefit mandates for all insurance carriers with many more are being proposed. This inevitably forces the young and healthy to pay for the chronically ill and others wait until they need coverage, instead opting for the tax penalty which is less expensive.
Wasn’t the mantra in 2006 that universal coverage was going to reduce cost?
Attempts by the Governor to control premium hikes and demonize the non-profit insurance carriers has been thwarted by the state’s appeals board and more Democratic legislation(Senate 2170 and HB 4452)will be proposed in the coming years in an attempt to reduce costs but these are not real solutions.
The people of Massachusetts deserve better and only a focused approach on the underlying reasons of escalating costs will define our future.