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Old 03-04-2007, 07:17 PM
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Default Mass. health care plan moving forward

The average uninsured Massachusetts resident could obtain health care coverage for as little as $175 a month under the state's insurance law, less than half of earlier estimates, officials said Saturday.
The plans are a critical piece of the state's landmark insurance initiative, which requires all state residents to have health coverage by July 1 or face tax penalties. Some insurers had suggested earlier that the premium would be $380 a month.
"This is a big improvement from the first round of bids and a big step forward for health care reform," Gov. Deval Patrick said as he released the results of negotiations with health insurers in the state. "The health security that was the point of health care reform will be delivered at an affordable price."
The panel charged with overseeing the law is expected to give its seal of approval Wednesday to the seven health care plans that met the affordability goals. On March 20, the board is scheduled to vote on whether the insurers will be able to offer lower cost versions without drug coverage.
The minimum plan detailed by Patrick would cover the average uninsured Massachusetts resident, who is typically around 37 years old. It includes prescription drug coverage and covers basic medical care, such as emergency room visits and outpatient medical care.
Lower cost plans would be available to young adults. Prices would also rise and fall depending on the age of the person seeking insurance and where they live.
The plans must include coverage for preventive doctor visits and an out-of-pocket limit, after which the plan would pay everything else, said the board's executive director, Jon Kingsdale. They must also include coverage for emergencies, mental health, substance abuse, rehabilitation, hospice and vision.
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