Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Massachusetts Set to Offer Universal Health Insurance

NYT reported Massachusetts is poised to become the first state to provide nearly universal health care coverage after the state legislature overwhelmingly passed a bill today that Gov. Mitt Romney says he will sign.

They do it by saying everyone has to get health insurance.
The bill does what health experts say no other state has yet been able to do: provide a mechanism for all of its citizens to obtain health insurance. It accomplishes that in a way that experts say combines several different methods and proposals from across the political spectrum, apportioning the cost among businesses, individuals and the government.
So the government decides how individuals and businesses must spend their money.
"This is probably about as close as you can get to universal," said Paul Ginsburg, an economist who is president of the nonpartisan Center for Studying Health System Change in Washington. "It's definitely going to be inspiring to other states about how there was this compromise. They found a way to get to a major expansion of coverage that people could agree on. For a conservative Republican, this is individual responsibility. For a Democrat, this is government helping those that need help."

The bill, which resulted after months of wrangling between legislators and the governor, requires all Massachusetts residents to obtain health coverage by July 1, 2007.
I know how we can save NASA a lot of money. Let's just pass a law requiring everyone to be able to fly in space.
Individuals who can afford private insurance will be penalized on their state income taxes if they do not buy it.
And it will be the government that decides whether you can afford it or not.
Government subsidies to private insurance plans will enable more of the working poor to be able to afford insurance and will expand the number of children who are eligible for free coverage.
More free health care for Democratic voters, and force the Republicans to buy it themselves.
And businesses with more than 10 workers that do not provide insurance will be assessed a fee of up to $295 per employee per year.
It does not matter whether they can afford to buy health care for their employees or not. I bet we find a lot of small businesses with 10 to 20 part time workers firing half their staff and having nine employees working overtime.


Anonymous said...

This is Federalism at it's finest.
I think govt imposed "universal" health care is a bad idea. However, let Massachusetts fail in this socialist experiment and have it be a lesson for the rest of the country, like "TennCare" in Tennessee.

Anonymous said...

In addition [to the a per-employee annual fee of $295], employers whose uninsured workers make multiple use of emergency room care -- "free riders," in the bill's parlance -- would have to pay between 10% and 100% of the portion of those medical bills exceeding $50,000. WSJ

The $295 per employee could probably be absorbed, it's this unquantifiable risk of picking up an employees medical expense in excess of $50k that could bankrupt a small business.

My guess is that you'll see greater outsourcing mostly through temp agencies and more part-time employment which may allow employers to circumvent the regulations.

If insurance is going to mandated, the option to purchase reduced coverage, policies exempt from state-mandated coverage, should be open to all self-employed and businesses who employ less than 25 full-time employees and not restricted to 19-26 year olds.

I know Vermont is giving serious consideration to mandated coverage. I believe Maine is thinking along those lines. If New Hampshire also takes it up, it might do the nation good to see the Northeast test mandated coverage before it is rolled out nationwide in a haphazard manner.

Personally, I'd rather see mandated coverage with an option to choose my insurance carrier and health care provider than universal care.

Don Singleton said...

Personally, I'd rather see mandated coverage with an option to choose my insurance carrier and health care provider than universal care.

I would rather see them insist that any insurance company that wanted to write any policies in the state had to offer individuals the right to buy their own insurance as a member of a group which consisted of all of the company's insured in the entire state, and select either hmo type coverage, or ppo type coverage, or pick your own doctor type coverage, and that an individual had the right to move from one insurance company to another without being hit with "preexisting conditions".

I would also like to see small businesses have the right to offer their own employees an opportunity to sign up for this sort of policy, and let the employer decide what percentage of the premium he was willing to pay (as an employee benefit), and let the employee pick up the rest.

In other words, as an employer I could say I will pay all of my employees premium under this plan, or I will pay half if they cover the other half, or any other percentage I want.