Massachusetts Is Getting Tough on the Uninsured

Massachusetts’ health insurance connector has turned into a legal pit bull by aggressively going after a growing number of Bay Staters who say they can’t afford mandated insurance:

  • The Commonwealth Health Insurance Connector Authority is cracking down on more than 3,000 residents who are fighting state fines of up to $2,000 a year.
  • All told, more than 7,700 people have appealed state fines for not having health insurance.
  • The agency has hired several private attorneys at $50 an hour to hear many of the appeals, and some 3,150 of them have been denied — and the losers told to pay up.
  • The connector has also hired the Hub law firm Bowman & Penski — at $125 an hour — to defend itself against 13 lawsuits filed by fed-up taxpayers who insist they can’t afford state required insurance premiums or the escalating fines.

Full article on Massachusetts’ new mandated insurance penalties.

Comments (6)

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  1. Neil H. says:

    I’m glad I don’t live in Massachusetts.

  2. Joe S. says:

    What makes this amazing is that it appears that the mandate is really unnecessary. Most of the gains in insuring the uninsured have come about because of the subsidies, not the mandates. Massachusetts could drop the mandates altogether and lose very little in the process.

  3. Devon Herrick says:

    Massachusetts was the model for health reform. As such, this illustrates what awaits the rest of the country. Some people are given a product that is mostly taxpayer subsidized. Others are being told to purchase a product they cannot afford. Massachusetts has some of the highest insurance premiums in the country. The premiums are inflated by regulations designed to create cross subsidies for a small segment of the population.

  4. Larry C. says:

    Joe, if you drop the mandates, you also have to drop the continuously avaliable guaranteed issue requirement, or everybody in the state will start gaming the system. No one will insure unless he is sick.

  5. Linda Gorman says:

    It is possible to have guaranteed issue without mandates as long as prices are allowed to adjust.

    Massachusetts had guaranteed issue before it had mandates. And, New Jersey has had guaranteed issue without mandates since 1992. The premiums are high because they reflect the use of health insurance as a sickness pool, but people who need health insurance get it.

    What the guaranteed issue requirement does is ensure that people who expect their costs to be higher than annual premiums will share their higher costs with others in the same circumstance–everyone pays the average amount of being ill.

    According to Conrad Meier, in 1996 Massachusetts passed a law that was virtually identical to the 1992 one in New Jersey. It introducing guaranteed issue and modified community rating.

    In 2000, Massachusetts upped the ante by doing away with a single open enrollment season and making pre-existing conditions excludable for only 6 months. If people had had prior coverage within 63 days there was no exclusion of pre-existing conditions.

    Insurers simply stopped writing individual policies. And as all of the leftist health insurance experiments without mandates had failed in Kentucky and Tennessee (using public employees insurance and Medicaid respectively), the next logical step in the experimental program was the individual mandate.

    It is failing too, at least if one is concerned with costs.

  6. Bart I says:

    Joe S.: “Most of the gains in insuring the uninsured have come about because of the subsidies, not the mandates.”

    Sounds a bit like employer-sponsored insurance, doesn’t it? Guaranteed issue, modified or pure community rating, no individual mandate, and a hefty government subsidy.