Health Officials Examine Feasibility of Insurance Mandates
A Massachusetts law mandating health insurance for all residents likely would not work in California because the market conditions are different than in Massachusetts, according to John McDonough of Health Care for All, an advocacy group that helped develop the insurance mandate, the Sacramento Bee reports.
The Massachusetts law requires residents to purchase health insurance or face fines of up to $1,000 per year. No-cost or subsidized coverage will be provided for those who cannot afford insurance.
Health and Human Services Secretary Kim Belshé said the Massachusetts mandate was "the centerpiece of discussions" at a meeting of state officials last week in Chicago. Belshé said California is looking "at components or a particular state strategy" to expand health insurance coverage because "[n]o two states are alike."
California has about twice the percentage of uninsured residents as Massachusetts, and the California HealthCare Foundation estimates that a similar mandate would cost significantly more in California. In addition, California has fewer not-for-profit insurers than Massachusetts, where insurance regulations are stricter.
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) has said he will focus on covering the uninsured next year if he is re-elected. In the past, Schwarzenegger has said he is interested in examining an individual insurance mandate that would be similar to auto insurance requirements.
The Schwarzenegger administration also has been requesting and receiving information from participants of the governor's health care summit held last month, according to Belshé.
Meanwhile, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Phil Angelides said if elected, he will work to pass legislation that would provide health coverage for all children in the state and require large employers to provide coverage for workers (Rojas, Sacramento Bee, 8/6).