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We face a critical moment in health care. While the state’s health care system – its doctors, hospitals, health plans, and pharmaceutical and biotech sectors – is the envy of the world, the continued increase in the cost of health care is a major concern for Massachusetts residents, businesses and elected officials, straining municipal and state budgets, and inhibiting the ability of employers to create and grow jobs.
Personal health spending in Massachusetts is 15% higher than the rest of the nation, and study after study – from the Division of Insurance to the Division of Health Care Finance and Policy to the landmark report by the Attorney General – have noted that nearly 90 cents of every premium dollar is spent on medical costs, including hospital stays, doctor visits and prescription drugs. The Attorney General went on to note that differences in prices between and among providers were not related to quality, the illness or complexity of the patients served or whether the facility was a teaching or community hospital. Instead, the market clout of certain providers and the prices they charge were the main factors driving health care costs. Getting health care costs under control and in line with the rest of the nation would go a long way toward providing relief to our state’s residents, employers, cities and towns.
For MAHP and its member health plans, the issue of affordability is not a new one. We’ve been working on measures to address rising health care costs for more than a decade because we recognize that employers and working families need meaningful, long-term relief.
Making health care affordable requires a focus on addressing the issues that are driving costs because health insurance premiums and medical costs are inextricably linked. When the cost of health care rises, so do premiums.
In 2006, hospitals, physicians, health plans, employer organizations, consumer groups and policymakers came together in the spirit of shared responsibility to pass Massachusetts’ landmark health care reform law. It will take a similar commitment by stakeholders to address the cost of health care. While controlling health care costs may be more difficult, failing to do so will undermine the gains we have made by expanding coverage and will continue to strangle our economy. We cannot fail!
We are committed to working to ensure the success of this collaborative effort on behalf of the Commonwealth and its residents.
President & CEO