Insure this!

By MIKE MILIARD  |  October 31, 2007

Which is not chump change, of course, but compared, say, with the $3000 settlements extracted by the RIAA from people caught sharing music files online, it’s a bargain. So it’s not hard to believe that Massachusetts citizens with a libertarian bent might be willing to pay it rather than get the required insurance, just to make a point about governmental intrusion.

But that ain’t all. “Failure to meet the requirement in 2008 will result in a fine for each month [emphasis added] the individual does not have coverage. The fine will equal 50 percent of the least-costly, available insurance premium that meets the standard for creditable coverage.” As the saying goes: it adds up.

One can understand how young adults who don’t have health insurance through work (or through their parents) might be upset about a mandate — signed into law in April 2006 by an enthusiastic Mitt Romney, after being passed 154 to 2 in the House and 37 to 0 in the Senate — that requires them to fork out cash for an insurance plan, lest they be compelled to fork out more cash in punishment.

“[I] know a lot of people who will more or less be financially crippled by this,” wrote one poster on Boston’s lemmingtrail message board ( this past spring, “mostly because they are young, make close to minimum wage, and have student-loan debt.”

Wrote another, “it is a fucking CRIME that we don’t have universal health care in this country, and we instead get stuck with these weird laws that try and compensate.”

Several posts later, however, a member spoke up: “I find it very hard to believe that any of the people in this thread complaining about inability to pay have a very good reason. If you can’t afford 100 bucks a month — maybe you need to buy a few less CDs or records.”

Affordable options
In fact, premiums might be even less than that. For people who earn 300 percent or less of the federal poverty level (FPL) — which translates to about $30,000 annually for individuals, and $62,000 for a family of four — there are an array of state-subsidized plans offered through Massachusetts’s Commonwealth Care plan, the low-income arm of the state’s Commonwealth Connector.

Enrollees who earn below 150 percent of the FPL ($15,324 annually) would pay no premium, but would be responsible for minimal co-payments for doctor visits and prescriptions.

Anyone who makes between 150 to 200 percent of the FPL ($15,325–$20,424) would pay $35 a month, along with some minimal co-pays. For people making between 200 and 250 percent of FPL ($20,425–$25,536), the premium rises to $70 or $75 per month (depending on whether the insured lives in or out of the Greater Boston area), and between 250 to 300 percent of FPL ($25,537–$30,636), the premium would be between $105 and $111 per month.

For people who make more than $30,636, the Commonwealth Connector, according to its Web site, offers the Commonwealth Choice plan, an unsubsidized program that nonetheless offers people access to “a variety of high-quality, affordable, private health-insurance plans,” whose premiums and co-pays depend on which of the four levels of coverage one chooses.

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