Keller @ Large: “We Have To Do Something” About Health Care Costs

By Jon Keller, WBZ

Been reading a lot about how great the Massachusetts universal health care reform (Romneycare) has been?

Read this, from the indispensable State House News Service (subscription required):

“Administration and Finance Secretary Jay Gonzalez warned that government would become a glorified health insurance provider unless steps are taken quickly to fundamentally reform the system. Gonzalez said that at the current rate, health care costs would consume 50 percent the state budget by 2020, crowding out available resources for other programs and services people want and depend on from state government. “Health care costs and the growth trend threaten the very viability of government, and everything that government does. We have to do something. It’s not an option,” Gonzalez said at the annual hearings on health care cost trends at Bunker Hill Community College. Reports released over the past two months by the Division of Health Care Finance and Policy found that private group health insurance premiums in Massachusetts grew by 5 percent to 10 percent annually when adjusted for benefits from 2007 to 2009, far outpacing growth in the Consumer Price Index in the Northeast over the same period that rose at 2 percent. Smaller groups paid greater premiums and increases than mid-size and large groups, according to the report, and saw benefits decline as member cost-sharing increased. According to DHCFP, inpatient copayments in the small group sector for the most popular HMO increased $500 to $1,000 while benefits decreased 3.6 percent from 2007 to 2008, and 6.6 percent from 2008 to 2009. The reports from DHCFP also found that private payer health spending increases were driven largely by provider price increases, while smaller growth rates in the public sector were attributed to increased utilization. Private-payer spending grew by 6 percent from 2007 to 2008 and 10 percent in from 2008 to 2009, while national personal health care expenditures grew at roughly 4.6 percent to 4.9 percent. Over the same period, Medicare spending grew by 4.8 percent, and MassHealth spending grew by 2.8 percent.”

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  • emom

    HEALTHCARE REFORM, what a he joke. When you want to go to a certain doctor , But some plans Will not allow you to use that doctor , so you have a choice of chagrining doctors, which may be good for some, but in most cases, if you have a doctor WHY CHANGE. Plus Premiums are going up every year, Co-pays are up, and the cost of prescription meds and other services of medical are up.. REFORM a total joke, when you hear of it you as what next, what will be different now, HOW MUCH MORE will I pay. I have seen premiums go up so sharply over the last 10 years and yet, the limits of service have increased. Now we are limited on where we can get service for medical treatment, Some plans limit you on which hospital you CAN go to, some the meds you can use, still more limit the specialty doctors you can see. On top of all that You may have to travel to see a doctor of specialty and travel almost 25 to 50 miles to see such doctors. Or you may not even get the chance to see one. DENIED………………… that’s what happens. Yet doctors can and will charge astronomical prices for their services. Something that is out of control., another place that is a HUGE problem, is the cost and the availability of DURABLE MEDICAL EQUIPMENT…. Wheelchairs, beds, commodes, walkers, and other items…..So many insurance companies will not always cover these items even if you truly need it… LIMITS TO PLANS.. BLAME THE INSURANCE COMPANY AND EMPLOYERS, this is what happens, then The state says they will FIX the problem with out of control healthcare costs, SURE YEAH RIGHT, Like we have heard that a thousand times. GOOD LUCK , when it truly happens it will be a miracle. Until then all will have to pay thru the nose for healthcare that may or may not cover every thing..


    We have to stop insurance companies from making medical decisions!

    • tsal

      Absolutely, Enuff. We have united healthcare. In order to re-enroll in the plan we had last year we have to provide UHC with our height, weight, BP and cholesterol. OR We can’t enroll? Sound illegal? I’m sure it is. they can’t get that info from our doctors because of Hippa and they know with the pre-existing clause going into effect in 2014 they have to gear up now to deny.

      Their reasoning is that they want to keep us healthy. I have a doctor to keep me healthy. My husband and I have yearly exams. An insurance company has no right to overstep my doctor.

  • BostonIrish

    Another “entitlement” program that will cost us taxpayers a lot of money to keep alive for those who have not. I don’t want to pay for it and I’m going to wind up paying a lot more than I feared I would. Because since it’s already implemented no one wil reverse it NO MATTER WHAT THE COST! Sickening!

    • Stephen Stein

      Entitlement or not, the costs are going up. You *already* pay for “those who have not” – before Mass Health, it was called “uncompensated care”, delivered at emergency rooms, and the costs just folded into what the hospitals charge.

      The problem we have is that health care costs WAY more here than in other countries.

  • tsal

    Ahhh, but Is it an entitlement program when the wealthy are given tax cuts they do not need – considering they have reaped the benefits of average annual income increases far above the rest of the country – that then help enable them to afford the healthcare the rest of the country cannot?

  • BostonIrish

    Stay on topic, tsal. I’m not interested in paying for it. Nothing to do with anyone else. I don’t want it, I don’t want to pay for it, and I don’t want government to run it. It’s always a lose-lose situation when implemented by government. This continues to demonstrate that fact over and over again. From Medicare and Welfare and Social Security to Healthcare, government cannot run it. You’re hung up on blaming everything on the wealthy. These decisions are created and run by the politicians who have the best healthcare IN THE WORLD! Stop picking my pockets to pay for it. Not interested.

    • tsal

      Interesting that Enuff’s comment was not any more on topic than mine since insurance companies making medical decisions is not going to affect the cost although both have to do with healthcare. Yet you singled me out. Interesting.

  • BostonIrish

    You commented on my entitlement remark and I responded. You injected the argument about the wealthy. I responded that for me it’s not about the wealthy. I don’t want t pay for universal healthcare on any level. And there was nothing interesting about it.

    • tsal

      you are right – there was nothing interesting about it

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