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

By Jon Keller, WBZ
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420x316-grad-keller2 Jon Keller
Veteran Boston political commentator Jon Keller is heard every weekday...
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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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