HealthLeaders- InterStudy, a leading provider of managed care market intelligence, reports that Massachusetts is entering the next phase of its Commonwealth Care healthcare-for-all initiative. According to the latest New England Health Plan Analysis, Phase II began January 1, 2007 with enrollment for those earning up to 300 percent of the federal poverty level.
There are an estimated 100,000 in the 100 percent to 300 percent federal poverty level range who will be eligible for enrolling during this phase of the program. Enrollment is voluntary in these plans, and unlike Phase I, there will be no auto-assignment. However, the universal participation requires that every individual in the state purchase health insurance by July 1, 2007, as long as it is deemed affordable. This group is subject to that requirement, barring a special waiver.
"The key difference with those eligible for enrollment during this phase will be the sliding scale premiums enrollees will have to pay based on their income," states Ric Gross, HealthLeaders-InterStudy market analyst and author of the report. "This is quite a difference for the 72,000 who have at one point or another received free care through the state's uncompensated care pool and who are now being asked to pay for health insurance coverage."
The build up of enrollment for this group might be a bit slower, as awareness and education campaigns are being launched to educate people about the law and who might be eligible. Health plans participating are busy reaching out to hospitals, providers, social service agencies and other organizations to reach potential enrollees. Marketing efforts will likely center around the benefits a managed care plan can bring. Health plans are also sweetening the deal with offers such as gift cards for a first doctor's visit or for certain screenings, or reimbursement for things such as health club memberships, Weight Watchers and yoga classes.
Other news in the New England healthcare market: -- Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island has developed its Health and Wellness Institute, offering products such as smoking cessation management programs and classes on exercise and nutrition. -- Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield is launching a suite of new health plan products called Chamber BlueOptions for the small-business market in conjunction with the Maine State Chamber of Commerce. About Health Plan Analysis
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