More on Mass. health insurance rates

Robert Weisman and Todd Wallack report in today’s Boston Globe:

The three-month dispute has pitted insurers who insist the cap is forcing them to lose tens of millions of dollars against state government leaders who contend soaring rates are crippling small companies and working families. It is also intensifying pressure on both insurers and state officials to rein in the rising costs of doctors visits and hospital procedures charged by Massachusetts health care providers.

Regulators say they won’t back off from continuing to challenge rate hikes they consider excessive. But as part of a stepped-up review of rate requests, they now will take a closer look at what insurers pay different providers, Barbara Anthony, state undersecretary of consumer affairs and business regulation, said yesterday. One question they will ask, she said, is “Why are carriers paying one hospital $500 and another hospital $1,500 for an MRI?’’

We know why carriers pay hospitals different prices for the same services. It’s called market power. The real question is what are regulators and legislators willing to do about it?

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