Bill for MA's subsidized employee health coverage $794M in 2008

Massachusetts continues to serve as a laboratory of sorts for health reform that could help other state and federal programs learn from what works and what doesn't.

Yesterday, the Massachusetts Division of Health Care Finance and Policy released a report on 2007-08 universal healthcare utilization and spending. The study found that the Commonwealth's health insurance subsidies for employees at large companies increased 24.6 percent to $793.7 million for the last fiscal year. Nearly 5,000 (4,796) employees at retail giant Wal-Mart topped the list of beneficiaries of the state subsidy. Stop & Shop was a close second, with 4,731 employees receiving state healthcare dollars. Overall, the number of employees and their dependents covered by state programs increased 12 percent in 2008, compared to 2007. 

"The question is not whether employers are doing their fair share for the employees they are covering," said Lindsay Tucker policy manager at consumer lobby, Health Care for All. "It's whether they are doing their fair share for their employees the state is covering." Tucker's group supports pending legislation that would increase employers' contribution to health care coverage.

The Boston Globe reports that Massachusetts law sets a minimum standard for company contributions toward healthcare coverage, requiring companies with 10 or more full-time employees to have 25 percent of workers enrolled in a company plan, or pay 33 percent of workers' premiums. Companies with more than 50 employees must meet both requirements. Employers that don't meet those commitments must pay $295 per employee into a pool for the uninsured.

To learn more:
- read this Boston Globe story