Premiums Under Massachusetts' Health Insurance Law Are Unaffordable

Armen Hareyan's picture
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Prices for unsubsidized health insurance plans in Massachusetts can be twice as expensive for older residents as compared to plans available for younger adults, and the state has made no "special accommodations" for older people to help them comply with the health insurance law, the Boston Globe reports.

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Massachusetts requires all residents to obtain insurance. Those who do not qualify for state-subsidized coverage can apply for a waiver, and if their insurance premiums are deemed unaffordable, they will be exempt from paying penalties for not obtaining insurance. While Massachusetts allows for pricing based on age, the insurance mandate, "combined with the new ability to compare plans on the Internet," is "leading to a mini-revolt," according to the Globe.

AARP Massachusetts has suggested that lawmakers factor in other out-of-pocket costs, such as copayments and deductibles, in addition to premiums, when determining the affordability of health care for individual waivers. This would enable more residents to avoid paying the penalty for not purchasing insurance, although they still would be uninsured, AARP said.

Dick Powers, spokesperson for the Commonwealth Health Insurance Connector Authority, noted that health care spending for older people is higher than for young adults. "Is insurance expensive? Absolutely. Have we made it less expensive? Absolutely," Powers said. According to the Globe, unlike other states that permit insurers to charge higher premiums based on health status, the Massachusetts law prohibits that practice (Dembner, Boston Globe, 8/17).

Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork.org. You can view the entire Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, search the archives, and sign up for email delivery at kaisernetwork.org/email . The Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report is published for kaisernetwork.org, a free service of The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.

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