Massachusetts health reform hits home

Got a reminder of the Massachusetts health insurance mandate today, courtesy of a postcard delivered in the mail. In addition to the Commonwealth Connector seal, it has one from the Massachusetts Department of Revenue (the tax collectors) just to make sure you take it seriously.

Dear Massachusetts Taxpayer, [note it doesn’t say “Resident”]

Beginning July 1, 2007, a new Massachusetts law says that residents age 18 and over must have health insurance. With few exceptions, adults must be able to show they have health insurance by Dec. 31, 2007. Those who cannot will lose the tax benefit of their personal exemption on their 2007 Massachusetts income tax return, worth $219 for an individual. Penalties will increase for 2008.

Most adults already have health insurance, perhaps [why perhaps?] through an employer or a government program. If you do not, the Commonwealth Health Connector can help you or your employer find the right health plan. The Health Connector has new health insurance choices for you and your family. These plans carry the state’s seal of Approval for quality and affordability. You can also purchase plans through approved Massachusetts health insurance carriers. To learn more or to purchase a plan, visit www.MAhealthconnector.org.

It’s not signed by anyone.

June 12, 2007

3 thoughts on “Massachusetts health reform hits home”

  1. Is it constitutional to compel, by inposition of a tax penalty, or any other penalty, a private citizen of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to enter into a commercial insurance contract for the privilege of living within the commonwealth; is the insurance underwritten by the commonwealth? Are we also compelled to ‘prove’ we have purchased or entered a commercial contract; who sues on our behalf, the state? What about Medicare?

  2. I think the incentive for the medical provider will always be best served by competition, & my experience as a homeless veteran may actually be exemplative of why I believe it could not be any other way. One might think the mental health providers at a veterans hospital would be effective in the treatment they provide; My experience was being misdiagnosed with no focused follow-up about prognosis. One therapist on contract to the department was incompetent about something she might as well have been liable for, but I was glad to perceive & thereby be ready from early on her inexperience might be the disadvantage it turned out to be. I will merit at least the director of a large rehabilitation program at the VA as being extremely competent, however low level staffers that mostly run those programs seem no better than a 12-step program anywhere, & statistics show the failure rate of those as being daunting. Race based laws regarding cocaine & continuing disparity of programs offering scholarships for education for people that have graduated from drug treatment programs is greatly lacking. There are combined work therapy programs, & I’m going to try to access one of those as a veteran, even though the last eight years of my own sobriety have caused me to see that as my only hope. They are mostly lower skilled vocational programs & I’m probably too old to handle the mostly manual labor jobs that these programs are directed at. Illegal immigration causes a greater demand for education and therefore unnaturally inflates its value; Health resources are affected likewise. Insurance companies are despised by almost every person in this country if one is asked about the red tape they themselves must face to access or pay for this or that procedure. Plans that replace these vast mazes of plans don’t help much in my opinion because they still have huge boards or ‘trusts’ dedicated to doing the same thing insurance companies tend to do: Take the people that can afford to choose this or that plan & still place them in different tiers of care tied to their income. My minimal knowledge but distrust of crude economics still allows me to hope the simple cure of some kind of flat tax could solve most of the red tape problems. Indigent as I am presently, I could still be charged as the new Massachusett’s plan does through the loss of tax refunds & etcetera. Co-pays for where many poor people access care today could have more teeth added to the powers of collection agencies if more public health education describing why emergency room visits aren’t as cost-effective as regular primary care is subsidized. I believe the complexity surrounding access to health care is commensurate with the savings that could be associated with getting the intermediaries out of the picture, & a simple flat tax might better enable the average person to calculate their own responsibility when accessing care.

  3. Hi,
    We are a Market Research firm looking for people currently residing in Massachusetts, who have evaluated the option of purchasing/have purchased health insurance through the health insurance exchange(‘Connector’) in the past 24 months.
    If you are interested in participating in the study, kindly send us your contact details at akamra@grailresearch.com. We would be happy to provide you with an honorarium of $50 per hour for your time.
    Regards,
    Apoorv Kamra

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