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Dealing with the Cost of Universal Health Care

October 4, 2007

Boston, MA – With the deadline approaching for Massachusetts residents to sign up for health insurance, there are concerns about the costs. Brian Rosman, research director at Health Care for All, says health insurance premiums have seen double-digit increases each of the past seven years. There's a hearing on a bill today that Rosman says could help control costs.

"We think government has a role to play on setting some ground rules, to really put the brakes on the upper costs of health care."

The legislation calls for public hearings any time insurance companies want to raise rates by more than seven percent. Rosman thinks it's a good idea; that insurance companies should be required to explain their policy changes.

"Make the insurance companies justify their rate increases and demonstrate to the public why they're needed. We would think the public would participate in those hearings and have their say as well."

The legislation also forbids drug companies from giving gifts to doctors; and it gives hospitals incentives to provide better care. Right now, Rosman says, hospitals literally make more money when they make mistakes -- because patients stay longer or are readmitted.

Massachusetts residents face penalties if they don't have health insurance by December 31, 2007.

Kevin Clay/John Robinson, Public News Service - MA