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Title: Blog by Novelist William S. Frankl, MD

Single Payer on the Horizon?

The rising cost of health insurance is causing some small Massachusetts companies to drop coverage for their workers and encourage them to sign up for state-subsidized care, a trend that could seriously impact the state’s already-stressed budget (Kay Lazar, “Firms cancel health coverage; With cost rising, small companies turning to state,” Boston Globe, July 18, 2010).

Many of these small companies — retail shops, day-care centers, restaurants, hair salons, and others — usually pay low wages. So when these employers drop their plans, their workers qualify for state-subsidized health insurance.

The state’s 2006 health insurance overhaul plan included regulations that discouraged low-wage employees from opting for state health insurance instead of their companies’ often more expensive coverage.  It denied eligibility to any one whose employer offered coverage in the past six months and paid at least 33 percent toward the individual’s plan:

But some of these small companies now have terminated their group plans and tested those regulations, and found that their employees were accepted for state-subsidized coverage. And these companies have found it is far cheaper to pay the state penalty for not covering their workers — roughly $295 annually per employee — than to pay thousands more in premiums.

But, in 2014, when most of ObamaCare goes into effect, the penalties for small companies that don’t provide health insurance coverage will be less onerous than in Massachusetts.  That could tempt small companies to opt out nationally, sending more workers to the public rolls.

ObamaCare does not impose any penalties on companies with less than 50 employees that don’t offer coverage.  But for companies with more than 50 workers, ObamaCare comes  down much harder than does the Massachusetts law.

Thus, we see in Massachusetts things to come: a burdgening “Public Option,” which will ultimately become a “Single Payer System,” a major goal of the Obama regime.

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