Not only is this the home stretch for the legislature, it’s also rate-filing season for health insurance companies.
As insurers file rates for small employers based on Connecticut’s many health benefit mandates, taxes, and fees, it’s not too early to take stock of what may be in store for next year.
The legislature is still considering a number of new health benefit mandates (SB 234, SB 175, SB 7 and SB 15).
These are medical services and procedures the legislature requires small employers include in their health plans.
The legislature has loaded more than 50 health benefit mandates onto health plans, outpacing the majority of other states and even our surrounding states.
Currently Connecticut ranks in the top five states nationally with the most number of health benefit mandates.
That’s certainly evident in the high rates employers and their employees continue to pay.
This year’s mandate proposals don’t only jack up prices for smaller employers but they will force the state to pay more, too.
New mandates are traditionally included in state employee benefit packages as well—draining more money from the General Fund. Municipalities will also be hit with a bigger bill (if they don’t self-insure).
And, for certain mandates deemed “new” by the feds the state will get a second bill to pay for those benefits for certain individuals that use the state’s exchange.
All in all, new health benefit mandates mean higher prices for everyone.
The legislature is also considering a number of bills, stemming from the Hospitals and Healthcare Roundtable, that will impact overall healthcare policy.
While these bills address important public policy issues the concern is how some proposed programs will be funded.
For example, SB 815 creates a new Healthcare Policy Commission and plans to fund the Commission with assessments on insurers and doctors.
This is especially troubling because the commission is charged with looking at cost issues—and yet another assessment will have a direct effect on the issue the group is supposed to address.
SB 814 addresses Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs). ACOs are groups of doctors, hospitals and other healthcare providers that come together to provide care to patients.
While ACOs may certainly have positive impacts on the healthcare landscape, part of this bill exempts ACOs from certain antitrust requirements.
Antitrust exemptions have shown to negatively impact cost and quality–the very opposite effect most ACOs are seeking.