A Healthy Blog

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

Health Care Market

Connector unveils new Choice site

The Commonwealth Connector unveils a new website for CommChoice this month (Check it out here by selecting a plan that starts on January 1st). The new website has the feel of an online shopping experience for a major department store. The revamped website is in response to requests by Board members, (and us), asking that viewers be given more information about the plans that are available. The new site still allows you to review all of your options, but it is laid out in a completely different way than before. Read more »

DOI Sets Small Business Insurance Premium Hearings; Releases Premium Data (UPDATED)

As the Governor called for last week, the Division of Insurance has announced an ambitious schedule of hearings to look into rising small business health insurance premium rates. The DOI announcement explains that the hearings will be in two stages. The first stage will consist of 5 "introductory informational" public hearings, Monday through Friday of next week. The hearings will be held in Lowell, Springfield, Boston, Bridgewater and Worcester. Read more »

AG Hearing Looks at Discount Cards

On Tuesday, October 13, 2009, the Attorney General held a public hearing on proposed regulations on discount health plans and organizations. These regulations are intended to protect consumers from companies who lure consumers with “unscrupulous marketing of plans that claim to offer discounts on medical products or services.” These regulations require discount health plans and organizations to provide consumer protections to the people purchasing the plans. It also requires that the plans make it clear that they are not insurance so that Massachusetts’ residents do not mistakenly purchase... Read more »

New "Discount Card" Regs Protect Consumers

On September 14, Attorney General Martha Coakley filed new proposed regulations requiring “Discount Health Plans” and “Discount Health Plan Organizations” to disclose detailed information related to their products (press statement here). Read more »

MEGA Good News in MEGA Case

AG Martha Coakley's office and the Division of Insurance announced a mega settlement in the case brought against MEGA Life and Health Insurance, and their alter-egos, HealthMarkets, Inc., Mid-West National Life Insurance, the National Association for the Self Employed, Americans for Financial Security and the Alliance for Affordable Services. Read more »

Obama's Health Insurance Consumer Protections - We're Almost There in MA

Last week President Obama announced his 8 core "Health Insurance Consumer Protections" that he sees as essential to effective health reform. Here's the list: Read more »

This Time, Jeff Jacoby is Really Wrong

Today's Globe includes an op-ed by columnist Jeff Jacoby, Healthcare: Do we need the Lexus? Jacoby argues that mandated health insurance benefits are the reason why health insurance is so expensive, and that states should let the free market determine which benefits insurers should or should not offer. We've covered this ground many, many times. We've called out a right-wing think tank, the Herald, then Harvard Pilgrim CEO Charlie Baker, and the Mass Association of Health Plans for spreading what we've called the "mandated benefits fallacy." Read more »

QSHIP Improvements Catch the Wind

This morning the Division of Health Care Finance and Policy held a public hearing on proposed regulations which would increase reporting and disclosure requirements for student health insurance plans. The room was packed with students, advocates and other stakeholders who testified with concerns, questions and requests regarding the student health plans. Read more »

How much is enough? Hospital and Insurer Reserves Hearing

While there was no definitive answer to this question, DHCFP and DOI hosted a public input session to discuss hospital and insurer reserves, endowments and surpluses. The goal: to find out how much these entities should have in their reserve accounts. Today’s hearing offered an insight into one of the lesser-known aspects of our health care system: hospital and insurer reserves. Reserves are surpluses held by these entities to pay for capital expenses and guard against shortfalls in cases of extraordinary demand. Currently, the DOI has a requirement that all insurers maintain a certain... Read more »

Should Insurers Be Allowed To Discriminate Based On Age?

Yesterday's news was that insurers are ‘offering’ to phase out their practice of charging higher premiums to sick people if national health reform includes a mandate for coverage. Skeptics denigrated the concession, particularly because it did not apply to small group coverage, claiming the key point of the insurers is their drive to prevent a public option competing with private plans. Read more »

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