KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Mass. Regulators Reach Rate Hike Accord With One More Insurer

Massachusetts regulators cut a deal Monday with insurer Health New England to limit premium increases for individual policyholders and small businesses to 8.2 percent, down from the hikes ranging from 11.5 to 21.3 percent the firm requested earlier this year, The Boston Globe reports. "With the Health New England agreement, the Patrick administration has now reached accords with five of the six Massachusetts insurance carriers that were denied double-digit increases on April 1. They later sued the insurance division." The remaining insurer, Fallon Community Health Plan, won an appeal before insurance regulators, but has not yet agreed to limit its premium increases (Weisman, 8/18).

The Boston Herald has some context: "On April 1, the Division of Insurance rejected 235 of 274 rate changes filed by the state's health insurers, saying they were excessive. Some of the insurers, including Health New England, appealed the decision to the agency's hearing officers." With Health New England's settlement, 93 percent of the 800,000-person regulated insurance market is now covered (8/18).

But who isn't covered in Massachusetts, where a 2006 law has achieved near-universal health care coverage? The Wall Street Journal Health Blog reports, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Urban Institute researchers have analyzed census data to find "more than 85% of the uninsured in Massachusetts were adults between the ages of 19-64 ('nonelderly adults' in demographic-speak). Those uninsured adults were more likely than the insured to be male, young and single; to be a member of a racial or ethnic minority, or a non-citizen; and to lack proficiency in English or live with adults who also didn't speak English very well." The finding was published in a research brief yesterday (Hobson, 8/17).

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