Federal Overhaul Could Hike Premiums Up To 3% For State's Largest Employee Group

GIC director Dolores Mitchell
GIC director Dolores Mitchell

WBUR's Martha Bebinger reports:

Across the country, health insurers say the Affordable Care Act is pushing up health insurance premium rates. (See this Denver Post story on the picture in Colorado.)  The new law requires, for example, that insurers extend family coverage to children up to age 26 and waive patient charges for preventive tests and visits. Employers in Massachusetts are calculating the cost of these additional benefits as well as more generous coverage established in the federal mental health parity law.

The state’s Group Insurance Commission (GIC), which covers more than 300,000 state employees, dependents and retirees, estimates these changes could increase premiums by as much as 3%.  So is the law just shifting patient costs from one place to another?

GIC director Dolores Mitchell says she hopes the answer is no.  She says she’ll try to reduce the 3% increase through tough negotiations with doctors and hospitals.

“I’m going to be pushing my health plans very hard about not simply passing along provider rate increases as though they were inevitable,” says Mitchell.  “I don’t think they are inevitable.”

Keep in mind that the new benefits and costs will take effect when you renew coverage; for GIC members that’s next July 1st.

This program aired on September 27, 2010. The audio for this program is not available.

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Carey Goldberg Editor, CommonHealth
Carey Goldberg is the editor of WBUR's CommonHealth section.



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