Posts Tagged - ‘deval patrick’

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Health Insurance Rate Cap Denied In Mass.

Friday, June 25th, 2010

Consumers looking for affordable health insurance on the open market won some and lost some today. This is an example of the later: a state insurance appeal board just overturned a cap on rates that was set by Gov. Deval Patrick in Massachusetts.

The rate cap was intended to put a lid on seemingly endlessly rising health insurance rates. Massachusetts health insurance companies claimed that the cap would irreparably damage their businesses.

The appeal board sided with Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, which was worried that increasing health care costs combined with the cap would make them insolvent. That insurer’s proposed rate increases were considered reasonable given those concerns. They are now free to implement the premium hikes, initially scheduled to become effective on April 1st. However, the three-month period they were meant for is about to finish–although they may charge the higher rates retroactively.

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Massachusetts Health Insurance Company Settles On Increase

Monday, June 7th, 2010

After initially asking for an 11% increase in its small group and individual health insurance rates, Neighborhood Health Plan has reached a settlement that allows them to raise those premiums by about 7%.

Neighborhood was one of six major Massachusetts health insurance companies that appealed and sued the state’s insurance commissioner when their proposals were denied in April. Now, they have bowed out of those efforts.

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More Increases Requested By Massachusetts Health Insurance Companies

Friday, June 4th, 2010

Image: cliff1066™ under CC 3.0

After butting heads with the state government and Governor Deval Patrick’s office, several Massachusetts health insurance companies have once again proposed double-digit rate increases.

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts wants an average increase of 12%, and Harvard Pilgrim Health Care wants ones that reach up to 11.9%. These are similar to the previously proposed hikes that were rejected two months ago. They say that they’ve been losing money since then.

If their requests are approved this time around, the higher premiums will apply to health insurance plans sold for three months, beginning July 1st.

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Mass. Insurers Agree To Pause Rate Increases

Friday, April 9th, 2010

When deciding on the monthly rates of a health insurance plan, insurers consider several factors. Maximizing revenue is one of the goals, as is minimizing costs. Another concern is whether their proposed rate increases will pass muster with state–and now federal–regulators.

In Massachusetts, Governor Deval Patrick recently denied a series of monthly rate increases that sometimes reached 32%, far beyond the rate of inflation. Rather than propose less severe increases, many health insurance companies have stopped selling coverage after April 1st.

Two major providers, Blue Cross Blue Shield and Tufts Health Plan, have taken a different tactic: they have agreed to resume writing new policies for individuals and small businesses at last year’s rates, at least temporarily. Meanwhile, all major insurers are working to meet the deadline for more affordable health insurance premium increases. Granted, it is unknown what consequences they will face if they fail to submit the changed proposals by the end of this week.

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Why Is Health Insurance Spending Rising in Massachusetts?

Thursday, February 18th, 2010

Gov. Deval Patrick

In Massachusetts, a recent report shows that healthcare spending on those with health insurance has risen by over 15% in three years. The state is one of the first in the nation to have enacted its own healthcare reform: theirs involves a health insurance mandate, coupled with government subsidies for lower- and middle-income individuals to increase access to affordable health insurance. The Senate has clearly taken their example as model for their bill.

Still, spending has continued unabated. Despite the mandate penalizing those who fail to buy health insurance, prices of health insurance plans have only increased. Some young, healthy people prefer to take the risk and pay a $1,000 annual fine instead of monthly premiums. That continues to leave older, sicker individuals in the risk pool–whom health insurance companies need to charge more in order to make a profit.

The state government’s report is a boon to Democratic Governor Deval Patrick, who wants the state to have the ability to cap health care prices. However, it also vindicates Massachusetts health insurance companies. It shows that at least some of their price increases are legitimately due to the higher cost of providing care.  A higher percentage of outpatient care is being offered in expensive hospital settings, as opposed to less costly facilities.  Spending in this category increased by over one-fourth, much of it passed onto consumers of health insurance.

Health care in Massachusetts, even with reform, is 15% more expensive than the national average. That figure can’t be entirely due to the higher cost of living in Boston! State legislators plan to hold a summit in March to get to the bottom of the issue.

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