For Immediate Release:
April 13, 2022
Jon B. Hurst, President
Retailers Association of MA
617-523-1900, Ext. 120
Statement from Health Care For All and Retailers Association of Massachusetts on New Division of Insurance Regulations to Curb Health Insurance Premium Increases
BOSTON – Health Care For All and the Retailers Association of Massachusetts joined forces today to issue a rare joint statement from the consumer advocacy and retailer perspectives. Both organizations are praising newly proposed Division of Insurance regulations that create new tools to strengthen the state’s review and approval of health insurance premiums for small businesses, individuals and families.
“Rising health insurance premiums have been crushing Massachusetts families and small businesses for far too long,” said Amy Rosenthal, Executive Director of Health Care For All. “These proposed changes will help shine a light on the reasons why premiums increase, as well as allow regulators who are considering rate increases to hear from the public about health insurance affordability challenges.”
“There is not a more important or timely issue for small businesses and their employees than meaningful healthcare cost containment and insurance reform,” said Jon Hurst, President of the Retailers Association of Massachusetts. “The Governor’s bill and the proposed Division of Insurance regulations strike an important balance in seeking appropriate marketplace and regulatory solutions, designed to give small businesses more equity on their health insurance premiums and choices.”
Health Care For All and the Retailers Association of Massachusetts commended the Baker Administration and Division of Insurance for their work in moving this idea toward reality and look forward to ensuring that strong language makes it over the finish line as the Division considers public comment on these proposed changes over the coming thirty days.
Background on the proposal
For many years, health insurance premiums for individuals and small businesses have continued to rise at rates that far exceed both general inflation and the state’s current cost growth benchmark of 3.1 percent. For example, in 2021 and 2022, premiums for those groups increased 6.9 percent and 7.9 percent, respectively.
These increases have led many residents with private insurance to spend an increasing portion of their income toward health care and placed a significant strain on employers who want to provide quality health coverage for their employees.
The proposed changes to state regulations would give the Division of Insurance additional leverage and tools when reviewing and approving proposed premium increases for individuals and small businesses. This includes 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. Governor Baker’s recent health care legislation (S. 2774) also contains important provisions to strengthen the rate review process, including enhancing the Division’s ability to modify and disapprove proposed rates that are unjustified, in alignment with the pending regulations.