For Immediate Release:
Thursday, September 9, 2021
Media Contact:
Karissa Hand
Cell: 508-406-8186
Individuals, families and small businesses will see an average of almost 7% premium increases in 2022
BOSTON – Health Care For All is doubling down on calls for more transparency in the Massachusetts health insurance premium rate review process in response to an announcement today from the Health Connector that individuals, families and small businesses who purchase private health insurance will experience almost a 7% premium increase on average in 2022. These increases will vary based on the type of health plan they have.
“At a time when Massachusetts residents continue to struggle financially from the pandemic, it is unacceptable that insurers are dramatically hiking premiums with little transparency around the process,” said Amy Rosenthal, Executive Director of Health Care For All. “This is not a one-time problem. Last year’s rates for these groups were almost 8% higher than the year before. Massachusetts consumers must know why their rates are increasing in this moment of crisis, and that’s why Health Care For All is continuing to advocate for swift passage of An Act to Ensure More Affordable Care (The MAC Act).”
The MAC Act (H.1247/S.782) calls for a number of reforms to address consumer health care costs in Massachusetts, including reforming the state’s rate review process to give the Division of Insurance additional leverage and tools when reviewing and approving proposed premium increases for individuals and small businesses. This would mean enhancing the Division’s ability to modify and disapprove proposed rates that are unjustified; increasing transparency so that policymakers and the public can better understand exactly what is driving premium increases; and modifying the frequency of rate review to allow for additional time for public input and negotiations with the health plans. The bill is sponsored by Senator John Keenan and Representative Christine Barber.
“Other states have reformed their rate review process with great success,” said Rosenthal. “For example, our neighbors in Rhode Island have a robust and transparent process that allowed their health insurance commissioner to recently reject and significantly modify similar premium increases, resulting in major savings for consumers. There’s no reason why we can’t get this done in Massachusetts.”
Health Care For All also argues that these ongoing premium increases underscore the need to address the root causes of high health care costs. According to data from the Center for Health Information and Analysis, two of the largest drivers of overall health care costs include hospital costs, both inpatient and outpatient, and pharmaceutical costs.
“Policymakers must move swiftly to both improve our state’s rate review process and address underlying costs,” concluded Rosenthal. “This requires also passing legislation to lower prescription drug costs and increase transparency for high-cost hospitals. It is unacceptable for health care premiums to continue to be ratcheted up on families and businesses at this rate, and help is needed urgently give residents across the state critical relief.”