Wednesday, December 7, 2011

More MA small businesses offer health benefits after reform, lessons for CT exchange

Massachusetts implemented sweeping health reforms in 2006, including creating a health insurance exchange – the MA Health Connector. The reforms were very successful in increasing health coverage in the state; less than 2 percent of residents are now uninsured.  The percentage of Massachusetts’s smallest businesses (under 10 workers) offering health benefits to their employees rose by 2 percent from 2005 to 2010 while the US average fell 4% and Connecticut’s rate dropped 7%. For more, read the first CT Health Insurance Exchange Watch Brief.  In recent discussions at the CT Health Insurance Exchange Board meetings, much has been made of low small business enrollment in the MA Health Connector. Board members and presenters have focused on how to make Connecticut’s exchange attractive to small businesses. But the point isn’t to build enrollment in the exchange, it is to get people and small businesses covered.  It is very possible that the MA Health Connector’s ability to offer quality products at more affordable prices placed competitive pressure on the market outside the exchange to improve options. Building a functional exchange in Connecticut can have positive effects on the rest of the market. We urge the CT Health Exchange Board to refocus on providing affordable, quality insurance options to everyone. Let the market do its work.

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