Employer-Sponsored Health Insurance Grew in Mass. Post Health Law
The rate of employer-sponsored health insurance in Massachusetts increased by about one percentage point during a five-year period after the state's landmark health reform law took effect in 2006, while the national rate fell by nearly 6% during the same period, according to a new report from PricewaterhouseCoopers, The Hill's "Healthwatch" reports (Baker, "Healthwatch," The Hill, 5/13).
According to Bloomberg, the conflicting figures might serve as a "guidepost" for the Affordable Care Act, which the Obama administration modeled after the Massachusetts law. Like the ACA, the Massachusetts law includes employer and individual coverage mandates. The coverage requirements under the ACA take effect next year (Wayne, Bloomberg, 5/13).
Critics of the ACA have argued that many employers, especially small business owners, will be compelled to drop their employee health plans because they would cost more than the penalty they would face under the law ("Healthwatch," The Hill, 5/13).
Under the Massachusetts law, businesses with at least 11 workers face a fine of as much as $295 per worker who does not have affordable health coverage. Under the ACA, employers nationwide with at least 50 workers that fail to provide affordable coverage will face a minimum fine of $2,000 per worker (Bloomberg, 5/13).
Meanwhile, the PwC report also found that the rate of employer-sponsored health insurance in Massachusetts increased as health care costs were rising in the state. Between 2003 and 2011, the cost of individual health policies increased by more than 60%, the report noted ("Healthwatch," The Hill, 5/13).
PwC's researchers also suggested that the "mere existence" of the state law's individual mandate "may have influenced individuals as much, if not more, than the financial consequences for not doing so."
State residents are required to pay 50% of the lowest premium available for each month that they remain uninsured, which amounted to as much as $1,260 in 2012, according to Bloomberg. By comparison, the ACA's individual coverage penalty is $95 or 1% of an individual's income, whichever is higher (Bloomberg, 5/13).
Robert Carey, a former top official for Massachusetts' insurance exchange, said the individual coverage penalty in the state resulted in residents "demanding insurance" from their employers ("Healthwatch," The Hill, 5/13).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.