HealthLeaders-InterStudy, a leading provider of managed care market intelligence, reports that the most challenging aspects of the Commonwealth Care program, a Massachusetts state health insurance initiative for uninsured residents, are still ahead. According to the New England Health Plan Analysis report, as the state prepares for the launch of Phase II of the program, there is question on whether premiums are priced appropriately and how the state mandate for health coverage of all state residents will come into play.
"Although there is much excitement surrounding the launch of this program, state officials realize that speculation will continue over whether premiums have been set too high or just right," states Ric Gross, HealthLeaders-InterStudy market analyst. "The proof will come when enrollment figures begin trickling in early next year."
Phase I of this program was launched October 2 with the enrollment of an estimated 50,000 residents with incomes less than 100 percent of the federal poverty level. Beginning January 1, 2007, an estimated 150,000 additional residents with incomes 100 to 300 percent below the federal poverty level will become eligible to enroll in the program. For this group of residents, premiums will be set on a sliding-scale based on income. Initially, enrollment will be voluntary, but the state mandate requiring every individual in the state purchase health insurance goes into effect July 1, 2007.
Marketing of the four health plans offering coverage, as well as informing residents of the Commonwealth Care program components will be the key to success for Phase II.
Other news in the New England healthcare market: * Harvard Pilgrim and UnitedHealthcare are partnering to launch Harvard Pilgrim Choice Plus and Options PPO products to be online January 1, 2007, geared toward local companies with employees based in other states. * Fallon Community Health Plan is expanding into western Massachusetts, transforming the health plan from an HMO with a narrow network of physicians to a broader health services organization. About Health Plan Analysis
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