At Cost Trends Hearing, Health Care For All Urges Action on Health Care Costs for Consumers
Recommendations include waiving co-pays for certain chronic conditions, creating a consumer benchmark and passing prescription drug reform
BOSTON – At Wednesday’s Health Policy Commission Cost Trends Hearing, Health Care For All’s Executive Director Amy Rosenthal will testify to the urgent need to address health care affordability in Massachusetts in a way that prioritizes health equity and the consumer experience.
“Massachusetts continues to have the best health insurance coverage rates in the country, but that doesn’t mean health care is affordable for everyone. Health Care For All constantly hears from consumers who can’t keep up with rising costs, like Hector from Revere who struggles to pay more than $100 a month in co-pays for routine medicine, and Roxana from Everett who pays $700 a month in premiums but still avoids doctor’s visits because she can’t afford the additional costs,” said Rosenthal. “Their stories are supported by a wealth of data showing that Massachusetts residents are experiencing significant health care affordability burdens and even forgoing care due to cost, with a disproportionate impact on Black and Latinx residents.”
According to the Health Policy Commission, health care spending growth for 2019 was at 4.3%, exceeding the benchmark target of 3.1%. Rate filings from the past two years show individuals’ health insurance premiums increasing on average 7.9% and 7% – twice the rate of the benchmark.
“The time for finger-pointing and delaying action is long over. Making sure people can afford the coverage and care they need and addressing high and rising costs demands a multi-pronged approach that includes all health care industry stakeholders, ensures savings are passed on to consumers and puts equity at the forefront,” said Rosenthal. “To achieve these goals, Health Care For All supports passing legislative reforms that closely align with the Health Policy Commission’s recommendations, including eliminating co-pays for services and treatments for chronic conditions that disproportionately impact communities of color, enhancing transparency in the rate review process, establishing a consumer benchmark to control out-of-pocket costs and premiums, passing prescription drug reform legislation and reining in the highest cost hospitals.”
In September, Health Care For All released a survey with Altarum Healthcare Value Hub that found that 51% of Massachusetts residents experienced health care affordability burdens, such as forgoing care. 75% of Black/African American adults and 68% of Hispanic/Latino adults reported facing affordability burdens, compared with 46% of white adults.