Major Mass. Insurers Dropped From State Employee Health System

By Martha Bebinger
WBUR, January 18, 2018

A decision about health coverage for state employees and retirees is shaking the Massachusetts health insurance industry. Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, Tufts Health Plan and Fallon Health, which are the second-, third- and fourth-largest insurers in the state, have been dropped by the state Group Insurance Commission (GIC), which manages coverage for 442,000 members.

The GIC says it’s been talking to insurers about the need to simplify, streamline and save money for more than a year, so Thursday’s 8-5 commission vote should not be a surprise. But dropping three prominent, nonprofit Massachusetts insurers is a major blow.

“Time and again, the Group Insurance Commission has voted to make workers bear the brunt of out of control health care costs, instead of tackling the crisis with providers,” said Peter MacKinnon, president of SEIU Local 509. “It is evident that the GIC has taken a bad situation and made it far worse with this anti-consumer vote.”

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We keep hearing that most people are pleased with their current health care coverage so we should reject the disruption that would be caused by changing to a single payer system. What better coverage could there be than that of public employees in Massachusetts whose options include three of the largest nonprofit carriers in the state? Until now that is.

This is the best there is and yet it results in instability, especially in the choice of their health care professionals and institutions. And the reason given for the disruption is that the costs are too high.

This would not occur under a well designed single payer system. Individuals would have permanent free choice of their health care and costs would be contained through patient-friendly policies.

Think of the health care coverage you had twenty years ago. Ten years ago. Even perhaps five years ago. And they say that single payer would be disruptive? It is single payer that finally would bring us stability of coverage – for life!

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