Yesterday the state Division of Health Care Finance and Policy (DHCFP) released its annual health care premium trend and price variation reports, in advance of health care cost trend hearings the Division will hold one month from now. As we have witnessed in recent years, premiums continue to rise. However, not only are Massachusetts residents required to pay more out of pocket in co-pays and deductibles, benefits are also decreasing. The greatest hazard of this trend in the increase in out-of-pocket spending is that consumers will reach a threshold where they will elect to avoid health care, including preventive care. From 2007 through 2009, premiums rose between 5 and 10 percent, with small group employers paying more for premiums than mid-sized and large group employers.
A companion report from the Division on price variation shows a wide variation across providers in Massachusetts for the same service. Prices paid for the same hospital inpatient services and for physician and professional services vary significantly statewide for every service examined. There was at least a three-fold difference for every service and for most, a variation of six or seven- fold. The highest ‘severity-adjusted prices,’ or prices adjusted according to how sick patients are, were often received by hospitals is the Boston metro area. Although there was significant price variation among providers, the study found very little variation in available quality metrics.
A variety of factors likely influence the variations in price for the same medical service from provider to provider. The Division’s report was not intended to analyze those variations, but the data helps to inform a broader analysis of health care cost trends and the need for urgent action to address underlying factors that contribute to high health care costs. Both reports released today illustrate that swift passage of the bill Governor Patrick filed in February to control rising health care costs and improve patient care is imperative. The bill, “An Act Improving the Quality of Health Care and Controlling Costs by Reforming Health Systems and Payments,” establishes a structure and process to facilitate significant reforms to the Commonwealth’s health care payment and service delivery systems over the next three years. To make this vision a reality, legislation to reform the way we pay for care is needed now.
To learn more about the Governor’s cost containment legislation, please visit the Governor’s website.
ABCD Honors Foster Grandparents posted on Jul 3
On June 12th, two bus-loads of excited seniors – aged 55 to 91 – rolled into Dorchester to mark 50 years of the Action for Boston Community Development Inc.’s (ABCD’s) Foster Grandparents Program. More than 170 seniors from all over Boston, speaking English, Spanish, Chinese, …Continue Reading ABCD Honors Foster Grandparents
Building Careers, Building Lives: 2015 Annual Consumer Conference posted on Jun 19
“Building Careers, Building Lives” was this year’s theme for the 34th Annual Consumer Conference attended by more than 400 people this week. The conference was organized by three state commissions – Mass. Rehabilitation Commission (MRC), Mass. Commission for the Blind (MCB), Mass. Commission for the …Continue Reading Building Careers, Building Lives: 2015 Annual Consumer Conference
Veterans – Get a Beautiful Smile for FREE! posted on Jun 15
On Saturday, June 27, Aspen Dental teams will be providing an opportunity for veterans to receive free dental care. This will be one of the largest single-day dental health initiatives for veterans ever. During the appointments, dental teams will be focusing on the most urgent …Continue Reading Veterans – Get a Beautiful Smile for FREE!