Massachusetts Health Insurance Fiasco

There hasn’t been a lot of news coverage about what’s going on in the Bay State – draw your own conclusion why – but the state’s universal health insurance program is collapsing. There are only a handful of health insurance companies in Massachusetts and they’re all not for profits – no evil malefactors of wealth here. They lost money in 2009. They want to raise their premiums. The governor says no. They say without an increase the won’t be able to offer new policies. The governor has ordered them to write new policies at last years rates. The companies have brought an emergency suit to be heard today. Briefly put Governor Patrick wants his state’s insurance companies to operate at a loss. His advisers may have gone to Harvard Business School.

Massachusetts is, of course, the canary in the medical mine. It’s a miniature of what’s headed to the other 49 states. The many mandates the state has placed on the insurance companies among which is the coverage of people with pre-existing conditions has driven up costs, delayed access to physicians, and in general created medical mayhem. Mitt Romney under whose administration the plan was enacted will doubtless have the serpent on the caduceus come to life and bite him as he campaigns for the republican party’s presidential nomination.

Everyone in the country should follow this dismal tale as it unfolds. In four scant years, universal health insurance in Massachusetts has caused lines at primary care doctors’ offices, inflated costs, resulted in price controls, and threatened insurance providers with insolvency. People are gaming the system by buying “insurance” when they sicken and then dropping it soon after. Oh, I almost forgot to mention this  –  health insurance premiums in Massachusetts are the highest in the country.

Addendum: “Suffolk Superior Court Judge Stephen E. Neel today denied a request by six health insurers to allow them to implement double-digit premium rate increases for tens of thousands of small businesses and individuals.” What happens next is easy to predict.

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