In response to: YEAR-END OPEN ENROLLMENT IS NECESSARY FOR INCREASING THE NUMBERS OF INSURED by James Roosevelt, Jr.

| October 25, 2007 | Comments (0)
  • Julie Jennings, Chair of MassAHU Legislative Committee responds:
  • This is a response from the trenches, and I think it is representative of what we are all finding out in the marketplace of health care reform in Massachusetts. The education of the employer-based market has been going on for several months. If people are not signing up, it is not due to lack of knowledge or opportunity. It is because we have not yet begun to address the issue of making health care more affordable.

    I, like many of my colleagues who are emloyee benefits brokers and consultants in Massachusetts, have availed myself to employer health insurance clients and their employees to help get the uninsured enrolled – whether it is in the group plan through special open enrollments (which, by the way, all the carriers held for July 1 of this year and which at least one carrier has extended through the end of this year), through inviting representatives in from Commonwealth Care providers and Insurance Partnership programs to help employees apply for subsidies if eligible,through setting up S125 plans and conducting meetings for part-time employees, etc.

    Jim, as your broker advisory group what their experiences are. I think it will bear out that the employee benefits brokers in this state have been beating the drum, pounding the pavement, and going above and beyond the scope of their services for no other reason than to help make this reform plan work. But at the end of the day, people are going to make a value decision – Can they afford to have insurance? Can they afford to not have insurance?

    Increased deductibles and copays make insurance less expensive, it is true. And some good options have come out of health care reform to that end. I think we also have to tackle a very difficult topic and that is what we require to be included in the insurance policies to meet the definition of adequate coverage, or minimum creditable coverage. The state has not up till now had an appetite for limited mandate plans (although they have allowed some exceptions in the under 26 market), and the MCC requirements I believe are too high to offer people choice and flexibility in buying insurance.

    Lastly, we have not yet begun to address the cost of health care and how to rein it in, as one carrier expressed, at least to be in line with the standard inflation rate. I look forward to the work of the Cost and Quality Council to help us along the way.

    Thank you for allowing me to put in my two cents. We all have similar goals, but I do not feel that the DOI or governor, the DUA or the Connector, can change the results with your proposed open enrollment extension or more advertising dollars funded by the state. It will take more forward thinking to tackle the uninsured numbers before insurance rates go up to the point that the number of uninsured starts growing.

    Category: Featured, Position Statements

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