Thursday, August 15, 2013

Fwd: qotd: Massachusetts shows us that we can have higher premiums with fewer benefits

Quote-of-the-day mailing list

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: qotd: Massachusetts shows us that we can have higher premiums
with fewer benefits
Date: Thu, 15 Aug 2013 12:45:54 -0700
From: Don McCanne <>
To: Quote-of-the-Day <>

Commonwealth of Massachusetts
Center for Health Information and Analysis
August 2013
Annual Report on the Massachusetts Health Care Market

In a continuing trend, the health coverage available through
Massachusetts employers in 2011 cost more and had lower benefit value.
Between 2009 and 2011 premiums rose by 9.7% to pay for benefits that
decreased by 5%. Consistent with this trend, employees are paying
increasingly more out-of-pocket for their health care. Deductibles have
grown in Massachusetts by more than 40% between 2009 and 2011.

This dual trend – increasing premiums and decreasing benefit levels –
was consistent across market sectors, but the effect was not the same
for all sectors. The effect of increased premiums coupled with benefit
declines was most pronounced in the small group market sector, where the
benefit value started out lower and decreased faster (-7.5%) than in
other market sectors. Although the small group market sector accounted
for just 16% of the Massachusetts commercial insurance market, it
included the greatest number of businesses. This sector is one of the
most vulnerable to cost increases and has been the focus of policy
interventions at both the state and federal levels.

The Wall Street Journal
August 14, 2013
Many Health Insurers to Limit Choices of Doctors, Hospitals
By Anna Wilde Mathews

The new consumer marketplaces created by the federal health law... Many
of the plans will include relatively few choices of doctors and hospitals.

Insurers are betting that consumers who buy plans on the exchanges will
be willing to trade some choice and flexibility in order to get cheaper
premiums. Smaller networks of providers generally translate to lower

A spokeswoman for the federal Department of Health and Human Services
said that in the new marketplaces, "plans will compete side by side, and
consumers can compare based on the factors that are important to them to
find the plan that best fits their needs and budget."

Comment: Under Massachusetts health care reform, the largest sector of
health insurance - employer-sponsored plans - continues to cost more
while benefits decrease in value. Just in the two years from 2009 to
2011, the average increase in premiums along with the decrease in
benefits resulted in a decline in value of 14.7 percent!

Nationally, the same process is underway, and it is fully predictable
that it will increase under Obamacare - a model of reform very similar
to that in Massachusetts. We will all be paying more to get less.

Worse yet, we will have even fewer choices of our physicians and
hospitals as insurers shift more to narrow-network plans.

Don't worry though. HHS assures us that with competitive plans we will
be able to "to find the plan that best fits (our) needs and budget." We
will have our choice of a selection of plans with higher premiums, lower
benefits, and less choice of our health care providers.

Of course we could have had, and still can have, an improved Medicare
for everyone that would replace premiums with equitable taxes, provide
comprehensive benefits, and give us free choice of our health care
professionals and institutions. Too bad that we believe our politicians
when they tell us that single payer isn't politically feasible. Come to
think of it, whose politics is that anyway?

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