Massachusetts Mandatory Health Coverage Successful on Two Fronts

With many states and some of the presidential candidates advocating for mandatory health insurance coverage, all eyes are on the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, that enacted a mandatory coverage law in 2006, while Mitt Romney was governor.

Some good news was reported on Friday by Business Insurance that carried a story indicating that state officials had announced that premiums for individuals purchasing health insurance coverage through the Massachusetts’ health care reform program will likely rise by about 5% effective July 1.

“This is the first sign of a moderation in health care costs and we look forward to continuing to make health reform a success,” Massachusetts Secretary of Administration and Finance Leslie Kirwan said in a statement.

The Business Insurance piece reminds us that the program called “Commonwealth Choice,” provides nonsubsidized coverage to state residents who are not covered under group health care plans. It also points out that state officials say that while the coverage is not subsidized, the premiums are substantially lower than what enrollees would have paid in the personal lines market before the enactment of the state’s health care reform law. (This is no doubt attributable to the law of large numbers and the larger risk pool the law has created.)

In addition to these moderate rate increases (Buck Consultants reports that group plans across the country are expecting a 10.7% increase in 2008.) the state is claiming that since the 2006 law went into effect, about 75% of previously uninsured residents have found coverage with about 17,000 people participating in Commonwealth Choice.

Now that the plan is reporting success on both the access and the cost fronts, I look for talk of mandated health coverage to pick up steam in the state houses and in presidential politics.

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