Thursday, April 06, 2006

Massachusetts Magic

Magic really doesn’t exist. You really cannot make the Statue of Liberty disappear or saw a woman in half without repercussions. But the Massachusetts legislators seem determined to go forward any way.

Everyone in Massachusetts must have health insurance under a law passed today, which the governor is expected to sign.

Those who fail to comply with the law can face penalties.

The legislation calls for uninsured residents by July 1, 2007, to purchase new, low-cost health insurance plans or forfeit their personal state tax exemption -- worth about $150 -- in the first year.

Fail to purchase insurance, it costs you $150 per year. Yeah, I can see folks quaking in their boots over that one.

The legislation also would require employers with 11 or more workers to provide health care coverage or pay an annual fee of $295 per employee

Provide health insurance or pay $295 per year. That’s a tough decision too.

Right . . . .

Individuals who do not buy plans in the second year would have to pay a fine equal to half of the monthly premium of an affordable plan, which could amount to $1,200 annually

The operative word here is “affordable”.

What kind of benefits can be found in an “affordable” plan? In a related article these affordable plans were described as “low-cost policies with scaled-back benefits.”

Does that mean a high deductible plan with little or no first dollar benefits for office visits? Or is it more along the lines of a supplemental, mini-med plan?


The penalties are not severe enough to significantly increase participation. The premium levied for such coverage is not sufficient to provide more than just very basic coverage that could well be funded by a savings account. The flip side of the coin is that one can (probably) find cat cover for $200 per month if the deductible is at least $5,000 and possibly higher. I really have no way to gauge the cost of health care in Massachusetts.

I could be wrong, but I think someone is trying to make an elephant disappear.

Must be magic . . .

UPDATE: FoIB Elisa has more on this over at Healthy Concerns. And so does Kate, over at Healthy Policy. Wow.
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