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Bay State Implements Health Plan Nondiscrimination Rules

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Massachusetts agencies are moving ahead with efforts to implement the state’s health coverage access expansion program.

The Massachusetts Division of Insurance has issued a bulletin that explains the state’s new health coverage nondiscrimination law, which takes effect July 1.

The law prohibits employers in the state from paying less for health coverage for lower-paid full-time employees than they pay for coverage for higher-paid employees, Nonnie Burnes, the state’s insurance commissioner, writes in the bulletin.

Massachusetts regulators will define a “full-time” employee as an employee who works at least an average of 35 hours per week and is not a seasonal or temporary employee, Burnes writes.

Burnes notes that, under the new law, employers can establish a fixed dollar amount contribution to premium regardless of salary for all full-time employees living in Massachusetts.

Employers can set different contribution rates for different plans, as long as the contribution rates do not depend on salary levels, and employers can contribute at a higher rate for employees with more years of service and for employees who participate in wellness programs, Burnes writes.

A copy of the Massachusetts department nondiscrimination bulletin is on the Web ‘>Document Link

In related news, the Massachusetts Commonwealth Health Insurance Connector Authority, an agency responsible for making affordable insurance available to state residents who do not get coverage through their employers, has established affordability guidelines.

Under the guidelines, the state would provide free coverage for single residents earning up to $15,315 per year.

At the high end, families with children earning $110,000 per year could be exempt from new insurance purchase requirements if the coverage available would cost them more than $720 per month.

A copy of a Commonwealth Connector document describing the affordability guidelines is on the Web