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Employers: Blue Cross plans hurt health revamp

Managed Care Weekly Advisor, July 11, 2007

A July 1 policy change by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Massachusetts means small businesses that pay one-third of their employees' healthcare insurance premiums can now offer policies. Prior to the change, Blue Cross only offered coverage to businesses that paid at least one-half of premium costs.

Blue Cross has about 3 million members in Massachusetts, and healthcare activists as well as state legislators fear fewer employees will seek healthcare coverage. Last summer, the Division of Health Care Finance and Policy decided companies must pay a minimum of 33 percent of the cost of individual coverage, or be assessed with a $295 per employee charge.

A Blue Cross spokesman said the company changed the minimum employer contribution at the request of small businesses, and that the new plan only applies to companies with 50 or fewer employees. Larger companies will still pay 50 percent of the premiums for their employees.

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