Wednesday, May 30, 2007

MassHealth, or MassMess?

We've discussed the new Massachusetts health plan before, pointing out the ginormous cost of the program (exceeding even its critics' worst fears), so it's no real surprise that the Bay State gummint has decided to increase the plans' load: consultant Alan Raymond was contracted to evaluate the program 1 year in, and he finds some disheartening trends:
In theory, Mass Health was supposed to lower the ranks of the uninsured by increased enrollment in Medicaid for those in the lowest income levels, while "encouraging" (requiring, really) all others to obtain insurance through their employers or individual plans.
In reality, according to Dr Raymond, enrollment in Massachusetts' Medicaid program has increased by over 50,000 since last summer. That means that about 54,000 low income folks who had been previously counted as uninsured are now covered. And why not, since the Bay State itself (or, rather, its taxpaying citizens) foot 100% of the tab.
What to do, what to do?
How about a new, even more encompassing state-run plan: Commonwealth Care. This program debuted in January, for folks who make 200% to 300% of the federal poverty level. Now, these folks have to ante up a bit to participate. It doesn't take a Carnac to divine what's happened with this plan: less than 20% of those eligible have opted in.
Quelle surprise!
Now, what could top both of those? You guessed it: The Commonwealth Choice program, set for a July rollout, will purportedly help "higher-income" residents buy "unsubsidized" (i.e. non-taxpayer-funded) private coverage.
Any guesses on how that'll turn out?
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