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Bay State Panel Hopes To Keep Basic Health Premiums Low

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Massachusetts may be able to hold the cost of comprehensive high-deductible coverage to $175 per month per insured, officials say.

Board members of the Commonwealth Health Insurance Connector Authority, a new state agency, have included that figure in an update on efforts to implement the state’s new universal health coverage program.

In connection with the program, the state will be trying to make many employers and individuals buy health coverage by July 1.

The Connector is supposed to help residents meet the coverage ownership requirements by encouraging private insurers to offer high-quality, affordable coverage starting May 1.

The Connector board asked for a new round of bids after officials were disappointed with the prices quoted in bids submitted earlier this year.

Each of the proposals includes a menu of bare-bones coverage options, richer “first-dollar” options and mid-level options.

Connector board members expect to vote Thursday on the 10 bids submitted through the new round of bidding.

Connector staffers have recommended based on a numerical scoring system that board members approve 7 of the proposals. Only 1 of the proposals earmarked for approval comes from a for-profit insurer, and that for-profit insurer is based in New England. Connector staffers have recommended that the board members reject 3 proposals submitted by for-profit, out-of-state carriers.

Officials note that the $175 per month rate will apply to younger individuals. Program rules will allow Connector insurers to charge higher rates for older insureds than for younger insureds.

A copy of a report on the new Connector proposals is on the Web at Document Link