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"You Can't Win if You Don't Ask" by Michael Sack

As with a recent radio show promotional contest, “you can’t win, if you don’t ask.” Well, so goes the future of Massachusetts’ Health Reform. If employers and individuals don’t ask, and understand, the future success of affordable access for all residents will be at risk.

It is a big change for everyone involved. And, it is why hospitals are engaged in a major awareness and information campaign for the under and uninsured. This campaign includes brochures and posters in fourteen languages at hospitals and health centers around the state in order to assist individuals in signing up for insurance coverage, if not already enrolled. Also, there is a new website – www.gethealthcoverage.net.

The Massachusetts Hospital Association (MHA) is encouraging every hospital to hold local briefings for area employers, particularly smaller businesses. The interest and desire for information is strong.

Questions at recent briefings focused on a tax benefit option referred to as a Section 125 Plan. This is a plan that allows employees to pay for health insurance coverage on a pre-tax basis and is not subject to state and federal income taxes or federal FICA withholding taxes. It also benefits the employer who will subsequently have lower payroll-related taxes, and who will be exempt from the “Free Rider” surcharge. An employer with eleven or more employees must provide a Section 125 Plan or pay a “Free Rider” surcharge.

Tomorrow, there is a Connector hearing on Section 125 Plans. It’s important that such plans provide an option for employees to be able to buy insurance from Commonwealth Choice and Commonwealth Care products.

Let me know what you think about this provision of the reform bill, or any other. If you want details on a local informational briefing, let me know and I will get you information.

Remember, this is a change away from the free care pool and toward a healthier, more accountable outcome.

Michael V. Sack, President and CEO, Hallmark Health

This program aired on April 26, 2007. The audio for this program is not available.

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