2013 Health Care Cost Trends Hearing

health care cost

The Health Policy Commission (HPC) hosted its annual health care cost trends hearing today at UMass Boston. The open event is a “public examination of our health care system” with experts from the HPC, Office of the Attorney General, the Center for Health Information and Analysis as well as doctors and leaders of both state and national health organizations.

The event opened with an introduction from UMass Boston Chancellor J. Keith Motley and statements from Governor Deval Patrick and Representative Steve Walsh.

With health insurance premiums rising, Governor Patrick explained how, since 2010, Massachusetts has lead the way for health care reform by “…disapproving nearly all rate increases proposed by private insurers, working with insurers and businesses to create limited network plans, partnering with hospitals, community health centers, doctors and other providers to pioneer patient-centered medical homes.” He cited that in other states, such as Mississippi, premiums have risen faster than Massachusetts because of no effort to provide care for all.

The audience was made up of providers, health policy analysts, students and executives- a diverse crowd of young and old health care advocates. However different we were, Representative Walsh connected everyone in that room and outside of it, simply by saying, “one common link is we are all patients.” He touched on the importance and effectiveness of electronic health records and the integration of behavioral health into primary care.

Áron Boros, Executive Director of The Center for Health Information and Analysis (CHIA), brought with him figures of health care spending in Massachusetts from the year 2009-2011. According to CHIA, “premiums rose 9.7% to pay for benefits that decreased by 5%.” In addition, “total medical expenses increased by 3.8% from 2010 to 2011” in Massachusetts.

It was appropriate that this two day meeting started on the same day that the Health Insurance Marketplace opened its doors. Having the ability to compare insurance plans side-by-side will hopefully empower people to choose an option that is affordable and fits their lifestyle. Community health centers across the state are offering financial counseling as well as health insurance enrollment.

If you have questions about the Health Insurance Marketplace or enrolling yourself or family in a new health insurance plan, make an appointment with one of our Enrollment Representatives by calling: 617-533-2284 (Boston) or 508-778-5498 (Cape Cod). You can also visit one of our health centers for information and enrollment: http://www.hhsi.us/about/locations

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