Massachusetts Health Reform

High Costs and Expanding Expectations May Weaken Employer Support

Passage of health reform legislation in Massachusetts required significant bipartisan compromise and buy in among key stakeholders, including employers. However, findings from a recent follow-up study by the Center for Studying Health System Change (HSC) suggest two important developments may threaten employer support as the reform plays out:

First, improved access to the nongroup—or individual—insurance market, the availability of state-subsidized coverage and the costs of increased employee take up of employer-sponsored coverage and rising premiums potentially weaken employers’ motivation and ability to provide coverage.

Second, employer frustration appears to be growing as the state increases employer responsibilities. While the number of uninsured people has declined significantly, the high cost of the reform has prompted the state to seek additional financial support from stakeholders, including employers. Improving access to health care coverage has been a clear emphasis of the reform, but little has been done to address escalating health care costs. Yet, both must be addressed, otherwise long-term viability of Massachusetts’ coverage initiative is questionable.

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