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Massachusetts coalition calls for one year freeze on health insurance premiums Posted: July 1st, 2011

By Maryalene LaPonsie

Calling for a health insurance rate freeze and greater consumer education, health care advocates rallied at the Massachusetts Capitol Building this week. The Greater Boston Interfaith Organization (GBIO) joined Health Care for All (HCFA) to challenge health insurance companies to maintain their rates for 2012.

The groups cited data indicating that increases in health insurance premiums have exceeded 70 percent since 2001. Meanwhile, wages in the state have grown less than 30 percent during the same time period.

"Runaway health care costs are crushing families and businesses all across the Commonwealth," said Reverend Hurmon Hamilton, President of GBIO, in a statement. "We are calling for a time out and for all stakeholders to come to the table and to lead the nation in solving this problem."

In addition to the rate freeze, HCFA and GBIO are encouraging legislators, health care professionals, employers and consumers to become involved in the issue as well. Health care facilities, government agencies and employers are being urged to help control costs while consumers are advised to become more informed on health care issues.

The groups report that a similar challenge was made by the Massachusetts Health Purchasers Group in 1993. That effort led health insurance companies to freeze or even reduce their rates.