For Second Year In A Row, MA Health Insurance Premiums Go Down

So the only thing we have with which we can compare the Affordable Care Act shows that it works to lower the cost of insurance. Kind of a roundabout, convoluted way to provide health care, and nowhere near as cheap as single payer, but at least it does lessen the crushing financial burden of the crazy system we still have:

BOSTON, April 14 (UPI) -- Massachusetts residents who participate in the state's healthcare program are seeing their insurance premiums going down by 5 percent, officials say.

While healthcare insurance premiums have gone up in other states, those participating in the state's Health Connector Commonwealth Care program are enjoying a second year of reduced premium payments courtesy of the healthcare reform act signed into law by then Gov. Mitt Romney, reported.

President Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act was patterned under Romney's program in Massachusetts and designed to lower the amount of "free riders," people who don't buy or can't afford healthcare insurance but cannot by law, be turned away at a hospital emergency room if they have a life-threatening illness, by mandating the purchase of healthcare insurance.

Let me point out that the definition of "life-threatening illness" is a narrow one, and varies from hospital to hospital. For instance, if you go to the emergency room with severe pain, they test you and it turns out you have cancer, they don't have to treat your cancer -- unless, for example, a tumor is blocking your lungs and you can't breathe. It doesn't mean they have to remove the tumor, but they might do a tracheotomy. And they only have to treat your life-threatening illness if they diagnose it. (You may have noticed they don't always order the most accurate tests if you don't have insurance.) And they don't really have to "treat" it - they have to stabilize it.

Most importantly, they will send in a social worker to see if they can get you covered under a special federal program for indigent care. This is worth a shot; don't give up. If you're penniless, they can probably help you. (I wasn't poor enough.)

When I made repeated visits to the ER with pancreatitis caused by gallstones, I was sent home -- even though the GI doctor kept telling me my condition was life-threatening. What I learned is that many conditions are only life-threatening if you have insurance that will pay to cover the treatment. And who can blame them when they're trying to keep their doors open? (What a strange, evil system we have.)

Currently, Massachusetts has the highest level of healthcare coverage in the country with more than 98 percent of its residents having healthcare insurance, but ranking as the 48th lowest state in the nation in healthcare expenditures.

The combined saving of last year and this year will save the state approximately $91 million with no benefit reductions or member co-pay increases, the report said.

In Florida, by the way, people who buy their own health insurance are getting rebates. I suspect the more people benefit from Obamacare, the more they're going to like it, because it is an improvement over the previous rape-and-pillage policies:

Floridians who buy health insurance without the help of an employer can expect estimated rebates of $143 to $949 in August because of the federal health care overhaul.

About 157,000 individuals and families qualify. In addition, an estimated $65 million in health insurance rebates are in line to be split among workers covered at 352,000 small businesses, the Sun Sentinel found by analyzing reports filed this month by 15 of the largest insurers in Florida.

Don't expect cash back if you get health coverage from an employer of more than 50 workers. Few of their insurers will owe rebates, and many companies are self-insured and not affected by the health law, insurance experts said.

"This is important for consumers," said Richard Polangin, health care policy coordinator with the advocacy organization Florida Public Interest Research Group. "They already pay extremely high prices for health insurance."

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