New report in Mass. finds record numbers dumping healthcare coverage

A new Oliver Wyman report for the Massachusetts Division of Insurance says thousands of people in that state are waiting to get sick before buying health coverage — and then canceling it when they no longer need it. Insurance companies throughout the healthcare reform debate warned that such an outcome was inevitable if health plans had to cover all applicants but people weren't required to buy insurance when they're healthy.

The report found that the number of people who abandoned their coverage within six months of enrolling more than quadrupled between 2006 and 2008, from 3,508 to 17,177. The result: Other policyholders — particularly employees of small businesses who get employer-sponsored coverage — end up paying higher premiums.

State officials are looking at ways to fix the problem, the Boston Globe reports. Efforts include Senate President Therese Murray's bill to allow people in the individual market to buy insurance during just one month per year, and Gov. Deval Patrick's legislation to restrict enrollment in the individual market to two annual periods — in June and December — with exceptions for "life changes."