SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Business

July 3, 2013

Chamber seeks waivers to federal law

Businesses concerned about health care costs

(Continued)

“Health care is the No. 1 challenge for any business,” said Brian Cranney, owner of Cranney Companies. “It just has been double digit crazy.”

He said he doesn’t understand why the federal law needs to be instituted in a state that already has a working universal healthcare system. He agreed with Berry that the new law would drive up the cost and provide less than Massachusetts’ current system.

“I’m all about everyone getting health care,” Cranney said. “But if the cost goes up 10 or 15 percent under Obamacare I don’t see the value. We didn’t have it before and things seemed to work fine here in Massachusetts. It is making government bigger and I’ve never found efficiency in that.”

Robert Bradford, president of the chamber, said the state already has 98 percent of its population covered with health insurance.

“This just creates an unfair burden on the businesses in Massachusetts in beginning to adhere to a new set of rules that were developed based on the success of our system,” Bradford said.

The chamber is seeking waivers for the following:

Rating factors: A mandated change under the Affordable Care Act that requires the state’s current 11 rating factors to establish health insurance premiums to be reduced to four.

Tinti said this would be the major change to drive up costs.

“Each of those rating factors impact the premium,” Tinti said. “The fewer factors you have generally means a higher premium.”

Annual rate filing: Rate filings will be changed from a quarterly to annual basis.

Under the federal law, insurance companies will have to project its risk over the entire year, Tinti said, which will likely cost more for customers because the health care providers will budget on the higher end of their projections.

“List bill” calculation: This change means health care providers will make new premium calculations for a company whenever the business adds a new employee, including a calculation for each member of a family covered. Under this change, the business will have to foot the bill for any increase over the original premium.

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