Health costs stable

by Lesley Politi on April 2, 2009

Participants in state-subsidized health plans will see their premiums either remain flat or decline when the new rates kick in July 1. Commonwealth Care participants also will see an expanded selection of health-care providers.

“This is a home run,” said Jon Kingsdale, executive director of the Commonwealth Health Insurance Connector Authority. “We have succeeded in simultaneously lowering costs and increasing access.”

The authority oversees a state-subsidized health insurance program for low-income, working adults who are not eligible for Medicaid or covered by employer-sponsored insurance. It launched in 2006, as Massachusetts began requiring all residents have health insurance.

Today, some 165,000 people participate in the program. About 70 percent of them have their entire premiums paid for by the authority, the other members receive partial subsidies.

Participants’ income levels may not exceed $32,508 for an individual and $66,168 for a family of four.

As a result of yesterday’s authority vote, people with the lowest-priced plans will see no increase in their monthly premiums, while those with higher-priced options will pay less each month.

Also on July 1, plan participants may choose from five insurance providers. The original providers are Boston Medical Center HealthNet Plan, Fallon Community Health Plan, Neighborhood Health Plan and Network Health.

The fifth provider, added yesterday, is Commonwealth Family Health Plan, a partnership between St. Louis-based Centene Corp. and Caritas Christi Health Care, the local nonprofit health-care system.


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