SOURCE: BBI

October 09, 2008 14:49 ET

Sponsors of Massachusetts "Health Reform" May Want State's Healthcare System to FAIL, Says Benefits Expert Jim Edholm

New Regulations Would Prohibit Health Savings Accounts

ANDOVER, MA--(Marketwire - October 9, 2008) - Do some of those pushing Massachusetts' latest healthcare "reform" proposals really want their state's healthcare system to FAIL? Jim Edholm of Business Benefits Insurance (BBI), a leading employee benefits planning firm based in Andover, Mass., thinks that may be the case.

Massachusetts' 2007 health reform regulations currently define "Minimum Credible Coverage" that every employer must provide, effective Jan. 1, 2009. "The latest round of proposals adds new, tougher limitations to the list," Edholm says.

On September 9 the Mass Connector, official state insurance marketing and regulatory arm, held hearings regarding these even more onerous requirements, according to Edholm. One regulation -- by limiting pharmaceutical deductibles -- might make it effectively impossible for Mass. employers to offer health savings accounts (HSAs). The HSA is disallowed if deductibles for any coverage are too low.

"So one of the biggest innovations in healthcare cost control in the last decade stands to be wiped off the books for Massachusetts employers," said Edholm. "For the first time, the HSA gives the average employee a stake in the game by allowing him to get health contributions back, income-tax-free. At the same time it lets employers to save money, too."

He adds, "The HSA will be gone, and employers will be left with just higher-priced plans -- which the new regulations will make even more costly. It makes ZERO sense in a difficult economy to arbitrarily load additional costs onto a healthcare system that can barely afford what's already loaded onto it."

"As much as I hate to think this, there appears to be ONLY one logical conclusion ... the sponsors of these bills WANT the state's healthcare system to fail. This will let them say, 'See, we TOLD you that only the government can provide healthcare.'"

Edholm thinks that these sponsors may also want to be able to say that the private sector "failed in its 'social responsibility."

"When Massachusetts is losing employers, and when the economy is hardly robust, and as employees struggle to meet increased healthcare costs, such new polices are totally counter-productive. The answer then is for employers to loudly proclaim their opposition to their legislators."

Edholm has published a guide for employers called "How Massachusetts Employers Can Lower Healthcare Costs, Maintain Benefits and Put Cash in Employees' and Owners' Hands." The report is available at no charge by calling toll-free to (866) 967-5123 x203 and providing mailing information. Or send an email to Paul Briggs at PBriggs@BBIbenefits.com. No salesperson will call.

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