A Healthy Blog

Massachusetts health care — wonky, with a healthy dose of reality

Health Care Market

Worcester Firm to Be Recommended as Sub-Connector

There are three sets of insurance industry players in the MA health: carriers/health plans, brokers, and intermediaries. There are only three intermediaries in the MA market. Intermediaries work with the very small firms of 1-5 employees and handle their benefits soup to nuts. Only one of the three will be authorized to work with the official Connector "Commonwealth Choice" products. Today's press release indicates staff has made their choice to recommend to the Connector Board: The Commonwealth Health Insurance Connector Authority will recommend to its board of directors next week that a... Read more »

Kudos to North Adams Regional Hospital

We offer kudos to North Adams Regional Hospital out in Berkshire County which recently started a new procedure for helping uninsured patients. Now, whenever an uninsured patient has any service at the hospital, the admissions worker informs them up front of their possible eligibility for free care for that service and even cover previous hospital services. They are handed a flyer informing they will contacted shortly by the on-site health care access program, Ecu-Health Care who will help them apply for free care, MassHealth, Commonwealth Care and all other public health programs. This is a... Read more »

Notes and Observations on the Connector Mishegas

Several interesting quotes from state leaders on recent events involving the Connector: Administration and Finance Secretary Leslie Kirwan: “Affordability and choice are critical for us,” said. “We are not going to rush on a vote. …This is the time to step back, make some adjustments and work with the carriers,” she said. Kirwan said she believes the board, despite the delay, will be able to take a final vote on the regulations by March 8. House Speaker Salvatore DiMasi said he is worried that prospective monthly costs of new insurance packages may be running over $100 above initial estimates... Read more »

Connector to Insurers: Sharpen Your Pencils

Following a policy committee meeting last Friday that left many of us concerned Minimum Creditable Coverage (MCC) plans would be neither creditable nor affordable, today’s full Connector board meeting provided better news. Bottom line: the Board delayed its decision on MCC so carriers can go back to the drawing table and return with more aggressive bids for the “lower priced” Commonwealth Choice products. The Board now expects to issue draft regs on MCC in March, hold a public hearing in April and issue final regs in May. Kudos to the Connector and the Patrick Administration for... Read more »

DOI Bulletin on Expanded Dependent Coverage

The Chapter 58 Health Reform law requires the state's licensed insurers to allow young adults to stay on their parents' health insurance policy for up to two years after they are no longer dependents or until they are age 26, whichever comes first. This requirement took effect on 1/1/07. The State's Division of Insurance has released a new bulletin clarifying this new requirement. Click here to view. Read more »

Paul Levy on our Concentrated Health Care Market

Not to be missed, Beth Israel Deaconess CEO Paul Levy's 1/17 blog entry (click here) ruminating on the state of market competition in the Greater Boston health care market. Paul surveys the landscape and the challenge of running his own hospital in the shadow (literally and figuratively) of Partners Healthcare. He also ponders the parallel dominance of Blue Cross on the payer side of the ledger. He finds the market dominance of both troubling, though stops short of any indictment: Read more »

Connector Board Set to Make Critical Decisions affecting Private Insurance

The Connector Board will soon make its first key decision of the year – one which will have a major impact on private insurance. Starting with a policy committee meeting tomorrow, the Connector Board will craft a definition of Minimum Creditable Coverage (“MCC”) to be issued in regulations in March. That definition will set a baseline of coverage: 1. to be offered through the Connector; and 2. that will be considered creditable coverage in the commercial private insurance market. If they craft the definition properly, the Connector Board can ensure that all residents in MA with private... Read more »

MA Businesses Host HHS Deputy Sect., and Sign on the Dotted Line

Alex Azar, the Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, spoke in place of Secretary Mike Leavitt at an event in Boston hosted by the New England Council, Suffolk’s Sawyer Business School, Associated Industries of Massachusetts, the Massachusetts Business Roundtable, the Massachusetts High Technology Council and the New England Healthcare Institute. Read more »

Two New Health Reform Dates

Two new dates relative to public meetings on aspects of health reform: January 22, 2-4pm; location to be announced: Connector Board – This will now be a FULL Connector Board meeting to vote on Minimum Creditable Coverage draft regulations. (The Connector policy committee scheduled for Jan 19th (12-2; 100 City Hall Plaza) will still take place (they will be developing a recommendation for the full Board’s vote). February 16, (time and location TBA): Public Hearing on MCC regulations Also, the Division of Insurance will hold public hearings on the Young Adult Plan regulations. Given the... Read more »

Higher Minimum Wage Helps Small Businesses -- Is the Same True for Health Benefits?

Check out today's fascinating New York Times article on the cross-state impact (Idaho/Washington) of a higher minimum wage in Washington. Guess on which side of the border small businesses do better. It's Washington. The higher minimum wage attracts more and better workers, and the price hike needed to pay for it is more than compensated by new business -- much to the suprise of small business owners in Washington. Does the same hold true for employers who provide health insurance? Seems pretty obvious to us. Read more »

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