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Massachusetts Subsidized Health Insurance Premiums to Fall Slightly

Officials originally projected an average rate increase of 2 percent for premiums charged by insurers in the state’s program providing coverage to low-income residents.

March 17, 2009
Related Topics: Medical Benefits Law, Health and Wellness, Workforce Planning, Latest News
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Health insurance premiums charged by insurers providing coverage in a pioneering Massachusetts program that extends state-subsidized coverage to about 165,000 low-income residents will dip slightly next year, according to the agency that runs the Commonwealth Care program.

While state officials originally projected an average rate increase of 2 percent for the next year, which begins July 1, negotiations resulted in a slight decrease.

In the current year, rates increased by an average of about 9 percent, and since the program started in 2006, the average annual increase has been about 4.5 percent, according to the Commonwealth Health Insurance Connector Authority, the program’s administrator.

About 70 percent of enrollees with the lowest incomes pay no premiums, with the cost picked up by the state. Other enrollees receive partial premium subsidies based on income.

Enrollees selecting the lowest-priced plans next year will see no increase in their monthly premiums, while those selecting higher-priced plans will pay a bit less. Five health insurers will provide plans next year, up from four this year.

Commonwealth Care was created by Massachusetts’ 2006 health care reform law. Its central goal is to move the state to near-universal coverage. Last year, more than 97 percent of residents had coverage, compared with about 90 percent in 2006.

Filed by Jerry Geisel of Business Insurance, a sister publication of Workforce Management. To comment, e-mail editors@workforce.com.

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