Premiums, deductibles soar while benefits drop in Massachusetts

Premiums for employer-sponsored health insurance in Massachusetts rose by 9.7 percent and deductibles by more than 40 percent between 2009 and 2011, while benefits decreased by 5 percent, according to a new report from the state's Center for Health Information and Analysis (CHIA).

Premiums are outpacing inflation and state officials "see the quality of the benefit declining," Aron Boros, executive director of the center, said at a news briefing, State House News Service reported. "This is the paying-more, getting-less headline. We see this throughout every group in the market."

The report also found 80 percent of enrollees had policies with Blue Cross Blue Shield, Harvard Pilgrim HealthCare and Tufts Health Plan, the center said in an announcement detailing the findings, with BCBS representing 45 percent of that market.

Spending on care rose 3.8 percent between 2010 and 2011 to $414 per member per month, the analysis found. The only transition from fee-for-service to alternative payment forms has been in commercial HMO products. Last year 39 percent of total commercial payments were made within a "global payment/ budget framework," while HMO enrollment fell from 63 percent in 2011 to 59 percent in 2012.

About 80 percent of spending for acute hospitals and physicians was paid to providers with prices higher than the network median, according to the analysis, and most payments went to a few large provider systems. Spending at Partners HealthCare System was nearly triple that paid to the next largest system, CareGroup.

The report was mandated by state's 2012 healthcare cost-containment law, according to the center.

While the new law is "already influencing the market," Boros said the data "doesn't reflect anything that happened after that law passed," State House News Service reported.

For more:
- read the report (.pdf)
- here's the announcement
- check out the State House News Service coverage

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