Dems: Hike Shows Need for Single-payer System

October 21, 2017

By Katie Lannan

State House News Service

BOSTON -- As they make their case for shifting to single-payer health care, two Democrats hoping to seize the corner office next year are pointing to soaring premium increases for individuals who purchase insurance through the Massachusetts Health Connector.

After President Donald Trump last week announced he would end subsidies that the federal government pays monthly to insurers to defray the costs of some plans -- known as cost-sharing reduction payments -- the Health Connector on Thursday said it would raise its rates for next year more than originally anticipated to cover the lost funds.

The decision means that some 80,000 people are facing premium increases of about 26 percent.

Jay Gonzalez and Setti Warren, Democrats vying for their party’s gubernatorial nomination in 2018, each said the move highlights affordability problems in the state’s health-care system, and both called for a single-payer model instead.

“Too many people in Massachusetts are already struggling with health insurance they can’t afford to use,” Warren, the mayor of Newton, said in a statement to the News Service. ”

A report released last month by the Center for Health Information and Analysis found that health-insurance premiums in Massachusetts increased by an average 2.6 percent in 2016, to $464 per member per month, while average regional income increased by 2.9 percent and inflation was 1.5 percent. Health-insurance cost-sharing climbed 4.4 percent to $49 per member per month, or $587 annually.