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Friday, March 16, 2007

Advocacy groups weigh in on insurance affordability

By Alice Dembner, Globe Staff

Advocacy groups are stepping up lobbying efforts on the next big issue that will be addressed by the state board overseeing implementation of the universal health insurance law -- who will be exempted from the requirements.

The Affordable Care Today Coalition today recommended that low-income state residents be exempted from having to buy insurance if the premiums and deductibles would cost them more than 5 percent of their income.

The law requires the Commonwealth Health Insurance Connector to define what level of spending on health insurance is affordable and to allow waivers for people for whom even the least-expensive basic insurance would be too costly. The connector is expected to take up the issue next month.

ACT, a coalition of health and advocacy groups that helped push for passage of the law, said the state should define “affordable insurance” on a sliding scale, starting with zero cost for those below the poverty line and rising to 5 percent of income for those earning $39,200 a year and 8 percent for those earning $58,800 or more.

“We want a commonsense proposal that’s true to the spirit of health reform, but that gives assurance to people that they won’t be forced to buy unaffordable coverage,” said Brian Rosman, research director at Health Care for All, a member of the coalition.

He said the coalition arrived at the recommendation after studying what people now spend for insurance, the cost of living, and affordability standards used nationwide for federal health insurance programs.

Posted by Karen Weintraub at 04:19 PM
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