Massachusetts Health Insurance Current Trends and Reform

Massachusetts became the first in the country to apply statewide healthcare coverage, which put in place a practical plan to expand affordable healthcare when it passed comprehensive health reform in 2006. The law has delivered on many of its promises, but has failed to achieve affordability and choice for health insurance coverage for many residents in Massachusetts.

According to the National Center for Policy Analysis (NCPA), there were only seven state-mandated benefits in 1965; today there are nearly 1,000. While many mandates cover basic providers and services, others require coverage for such non-medical expenses such as hairpieces, treatment for drug and alcohol abuse, pastoral and marriage counseling, among many others. Overall the NCPA states that 12 of the most common mandates can increase the cost of insurance by as much as 30%.

The current proposal set forth by Representative Winslow addresses several factors regarding mandated insurance coverage on the state levels,

-it prevents special interests on the state level, which have proven to be more successful than on the federal level, from taking complete control of the reigns in regard to enacting new health insurance mandates, and,

– Secondly, there are at least 10 states that provide for mandate-life policies, which allow an individual to purchase a policy with fewer mandates more tailored to his or her needs and financial situation.

More specifically in regards to Massachusetts, Rep Winslow’s proposal’s, contrary to popular belief, will ensure the following;

-keep full mandated coverage health insurance policies for all citizens,

– offer an additional, more personal and cost-effective option for citizens,

-save the Commonwealth potentially up to 25% in overall cost, and,

-would allow the healthcare consumer to make choices dependent upon their given situation and not by a government mandate.

Officials, individuals and citizens all across the Commonwealth agree that as a society we should create a consumer-centered healthcare system that provides comprehensive, affordable, accessible, high quality care and consumer education for everyone, especially the most vulnerable, whether physically or economically. Therefore I will offer some national as well as regional data concerning the mandated health insurance policies of MA that puts the overall policy as well as Rep Winslow’s current proposal into a more accurate perspective.

The alternative or additional option for healthcare consumers would be a policy that is made up of the following mandates, this “basic” coverage would be available alongside the full-mandated option,

– pregnant women, infants and children care,

– prenatal care, childbirth and postpartum care,

– cytological screenings and mammographic examination quality care,

– diabetes-related services, medications and supplies,

– early intervention services care, and,

– mental health services.

Further, this basic and more comprehensive package would allow for a various number of beneficial results such as direct cost-savings to the healthcare consumer. What is interesting to note is that MA currently has 47 separately required health insurance mandates. In comparison to the average mandate levels in New England of roughly 53 total mandates, Massachusetts seems relatively “normal” however when compared to the national average the picture reverses; for example the state of Idaho has the lowest national mandate level at 13 and only 7 other states fall on the same average of Massachusetts plus or minus two mandates.

Beacon Hill may potentially allow a meaningful debate to decide whether hair prosthesis is extremely necessary to have mandated, or whether pediatric specialists should be covered, especially considering MA is the only state in the country which does mandate this service.

It should be up to the rational healthcare consumer to make the judgment on which type of comprehensive health insurance package best suits their given needs. To offer a more basic package to that of the fully-mandated package allows more room for citizens to make their own choices than to be forced into financial endevours by government mandates.  

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