The Division of Health Care Finance and Policy has issued its latest Employers Health Insurance Survey (the releases include a one-page fact sheet (pdf); powerpoint of survey results; a 6-page overview of health reform and employers; and a detailed “field report” on survey methodology).
In the midst of questions and challenges about the success of the Commonwealth’s reform, this 2009 report reminds us and Washington policymakers how the shared responsibility model of health reform can work to boost private coverage.
Since the enactment of Chapter 58, Massachusetts has increased the percentage of employers offering coverage to their employees. With the employer offer rate up 4% over two year, to 76%, we are climbing well above the national average of 60%. This increase occurred in spite of the recession. Most employees (80%) who are eligible for employer-sponsored insurance choose to enroll. There are large (and predictable) differences between small and large employers, with the small employers less likely to offer health insurance.
More than 95% of the Commonwealth’s employers have been determined to have made a “fair and reasonable” contribution to their employees’ plans. From the 5% who have not, the state has collected $18 million over 2007 and 2008. Another positive data point: about 90% of employers with more than ten FTEs have Section 125 (cafeteria) plans in place, to provide their employees with pre-tax payroll deductions for health coverage.
There are continuing challenges as well. The survey confirms that health plan premiums have gone up in all categories – for small and large employers, individual and family plans. Employers are generally contributing at lower rates to their employees’ plans and the employee contribution has increased significantly over the past couple of years.
The business community continues to be engaged in health reform. Consumer advocates and employers are looking towards a continued partnership as we move into addressing cost containment and advancing payment reform.