Massachusetts Officials Look To Offset Health Plan Costs
Massachusetts officials are considering raising Commonwealth Care premiums by as much as 14% and doubling some copayments in an effort to hold down the program's costs, the Boston Globe reports.
Commonwealth Care provides subsidized health coverage for low-income state residents, and Massachusetts officials have expressed concerns that the program will collapse under rising costs or a possible influx of residents whose employers may drop coverage because the program offers a better deal for their workers, according to the Globe. About 170,000 residents are enrolled in the program, and the state predicts that enrollment and costs for Commonwealth Care could double over the next three years.
The proposed increases would affect about half of Commonwealth Care beneficiaries. Premium increases would affect residents with incomes greater than 150% of the federal poverty level, and copay increases would affect those with incomes greater than 100% of the poverty level. Under the proposal, premiums would increase by $5, $10 or $15 per month based on income, according to Jon Kingsdale, executive director of the Commonwealth Health Insurance Connector Authority.
The lowest premium would increase from $35 to $40 a month. Copays for office visits and prescription drugs could increase by $5 or $10. The Connector board is expected to vote on the proposed increases within the next two weeks. The increases could be altered or avoided if insurers reduce their rates or if the state can find additional revenue sources. The state is currently negotiating with insurers.
Some advocates and Connector board members are concerned the increases would force people out of the program. However, other board members said the increases are necessary to prevent employers from dropping coverage and sending their employees to Commonwealth Care (Dembner, Boston Globe, 2/15).