MA health plans keep cutting prices

Spurred by state authorities who said that premiums weren't affordable enough, insurers have done a second round of price-cutting on policies aimed at uninsured but employed citizens. Right now, it's estimated by about 200,000 Massachusetts residents don't get employer-sponsored health coverage, but also earn too much to qualify for state subsidies. To get some of this business, health plans had made bids for participation which came in below standard market premiums. However, Gov. Deval Patrick (D) and members of the Commonwealth Health Insurance Connector Authority weren't happy with health insurers' bids for the "Commonwealth Choice" program, which averaged $302.79 per month for a 37-year-old. Some of the highest-priced plans were eliminated from the process.

The remaining plans, which include Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, Tufts Health Plan, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts and Neighborhood Health Plan, cut premiums by an average of 8 percent during this round, some by trimming benefits. The plans had already imposed large annual deductibles and co-pays, with maximum out of pocket limits typically at $5,000 for individuals and $10,000 for families. Regardless of how prices turn out, the high deductibles should remain an issue. With consumers picking up policies that require substantial out of pocket spending, providers may still end up with large unpaid bills, which defeats one major purpose for instituting universal coverage.

To learn more about health plan price jockeying:
- read this piece from The Boston Globe