For Immediate Release:
March 14, 2022
Statement from Health Care for All Executive Director Amy Rosenthal on Massachusetts Center for Health Information and Analysis (CHIA) Annual Report
BOSTON – Health Care for All Executive Director Amy Rosenthal issued the following statement today in response to the release of the annual health care cost report from the Massachusetts Center for Health Information and Analysis (CHIA):
“CHIA’s 2020 annual report reflects a highly unusual year, as the Commonwealth grappled with the first waves of the COVID-19 pandemic. While the state should not make long-term policy decisions based on the trends reflected just from this report, the report does include several clear points that remain troubling for consumers.
“The continued rapid rise in prescription drug spending is an ongoing and deepening challenge that the state must confront. Medication use did not appear to decrease in the same manner as other health care services. Prescription drug spending grew 8.2 percent – more than twice the benchmark. Even net of drug rebate discounts, the growth substantially exceeded the benchmark at 7.9 percent. Legislation to address excessive and increasing prescription drug costs is pending before Massachusetts lawmakers and the impact of these trends on consumers should give lawmakers reason to act before the end of this legislative session.
“We are also concerned about how much money insurers kept from their financial gains due to the unexpected drop in the use of health care services during the pandemic. The amount of money insurers were paid in premiums but did not spend on medical care jumped by more than 35 percent, even after accounting for rebates and credits paid back to consumers. Policymakers must monitor this development to ensure that consumers do not continue to face rising premiums while insurer profits surge.
“It is also worth noting that while the report shows consumers paid less in out-of-pocket costs as a result of the temporary drop in spending in 2020, the continuing trend toward more high-deductible health plans relative to other plan types is an ominous sign that consumer costs will only increase as health care use returns to normal.”