A Healthy Blog

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

Health Care Market

Insurers, State, Square Off in Court

The eagerly anticipated, and exceptionally well-attended, insurer rate challenge hearing convened today in front of Superior Court Associate Justice Stephen Neel. (coverage: Globe, Herald, and AP. Also, WBUR has an informative discussion of the impact on consumers, and watch the NECN coverage and WGBH's Greater Boston discussion between Barbara Anthony, Undersecretary of Consumer Affairs, and Lora Pellegrini of MAHP, below): The insurers (Mass. Assoc of Health Plans, BCBS, HMO Blue, Fallon, Harvard Pilgrim, Health New England, Neighborhood Health Plan and Tufts), have challenged as illegal... Read more »

Hungry for Insurer Rates Court Case Updates? - Check our Tweets

Today the Superior Court held a hearing on the request by a number of insurers for an injunction against enforcement of the order by the DOI denying rate increases. Our twitterific crew is there, live-tweeting as it goes down. Follow us at twitter.com/hcfa. Read more »

Thursday: Lots Going On

Lots of activity on the health policy front Thursday morning. The Health Connector is holding its board meeting, at 9:00 am at 1 Ashburton Place, 21st floor. The agenda includes a vote on the Commonwealth Care plans for next year, and an update on Commonwealth Care. Read more »

Insurers: "We're Closed Now"

If you want to buy health coverage from any of the state's major plans, like Blue Cross Blue Shield, Harvard Pilgrim, Tufts or Fallon, it appears you're out of luck. This morning, all of the major non-profit plans began refusing to sell coverage to individuals or small groups. This was in response to the state's rejection of proposed rate increases of up to 35%. We're still trying to confirm the details, and will update the blog as we learn more. Read more »

One Step Forward for Student Health Insurance

After months of collaborative work between DHCFP, the Connector, and Higher Ed representatives, the results are in. Blue Cross Blue Shield won the bid to provide health insurance for approximately 11,000 Massachusetts state and community college students. According to Gov. Patrick’s press release, students will have access to a broader network and wellness management benefits starting next academic year. "Our success in providing quality, affordable health insurance to our residents continues with our reform of health insurance for students in higher education. With this reorganization of... Read more »

DOI Rejects Insurer Rate Increases

Health Care For All has long called for an accountable, public process to protect consumers against unjustified premium rate increases. Today the Division of Insurance ruled that premium increases of as high as 35% are not reasonable. The State House News Service reported that speaking at a small business breakfast this morning, Governor Patrick said that "Small businesses and working families can’t wait any longer.” He called on hospitals and care providers to “do what they can do to lower the costs they are passing on to insurers,” adding: “You don’t have to wait for a change in law. Be... Read more »

AG Regulates Health Discount Plans

This past Friday the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office announced new regulations designed to protect Massachusetts consumers by preventing the deceptive marketing of discount health plans. For many, these plans are pure scams - deceptively sold as insurance but providing no real insurance benefits. A discount health plan requires you to pay a monthly or annual fee and in return you receive a discount on a limited number of medical services and providers. However, doctors may charge patients enrolled in discount health plans a higher fee than the doctor actually receives as... Read more »

Dumb and Dumber

There's lots of bad ideas floating around on how to lower health care costs. While we're focusing on real, fundamental reforms of the payment and delivery systems, as part of the Massachusetts Campaign For Better Care (see our spiffy new logo, at www.hcfama.org/bettercare) others are grasping for gimmicks. Senate Candidate Scott Brown has focused on mandated benefits, which contribute little to health care cost growth. Read more »

Health Care Financing Committee to hold December 3 Public Hearing

Thursday, the legislature’s Joint Committee on Health Care Financing will hear two key bills affecting young people: S.39 / H.188 – An Act to Assure Continuity of Health Coverage For Children, and S. 609 - An Act Relative to the Qualifying Student Health Insurance Program. The hearing will be at 11:30 am in State House Room A-1, on Thursday, December 3 . Read more »

Who’s Getting Over on Students?

Many of us who have ever been enrolled in a student health plan (SHP) and all of us in the health policy arena knew that student plans are lousy. Last week, the Division of Health Care Finance and Policy released its Student Health Program Baseline Report (ppt), the first of its kind to take a thorough look at the student health insurance programs in the state. This report confirms our hunch – we just didn’t know it would be this bad. The results are eye-opening to say the least. The average premium paid by the 95,000 students enrolled in SHPs was $1,216 but there is a very wide range in... Read more »


Subscribe to Health Care Market