BOSTON – Senator Michael O. Moore (D-Millbury) joined legislative colleagues and advocates in expressing support for legislation that would require insurance companies in Massachusetts to offer coverage for Lyme disease treatment.
Sen. Moore is a co-sponsor of Senate Bill 502, An Act relative to Lyme disease treatment coverage, which aims to help bridge the gap between patients being prescribed treatment for Lyme disease and their ability to pay for it through insurance coverage. Sen. Moore submitted written testimony to the Joint Committee on Financial Services which held a public hearing on the bill last Tuesday.
“Many individuals in Central Massachusetts have been afflicted with this unforgiving disease without the security of having health insurance coverage to lessen the financial burden of related medical expenses,” said Sen. Moore. “This bill would help ensure that residents have the financial means to acquire treatment in a timely manner without risking additional health complications.”
The bill’s primary sponsor, Senator Anne M. Gobi (D-Spencer), said “I am glad to stand with people who suffer from the devastating effects of Lyme and other tick borne illnesses. The proposed bills will assist in making sure treatments are covered. The personal and societal financial costs of not passing this legislation would be astronomical.”
Lyme disease is the largest vector-borne disease in the United States, affecting more people than Eastern equine encephalitis (EEE) and West Nile virus combined. According to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, 5,665 new cases of Lyme disease were reported in the Commonwealth in 2013, a 12 percent increase in reported cases over 2012 and the highest incidence rate in Massachusetts history. It is estimated that individuals with chronic Lyme disease have an approximate mean annual cost of treatment of $16,199 a year, with chronic illness accounting for 84% of Lyme disease healthcare costs.
According to a 2014 report from the Center of Health Information and Analysis, requiring coverage for Lyme disease treatments by fully-insured health plans would result in an average annual increase, over five years, to the typical member’s monthly health insurance premiums of between a negligible amount (0.00%) and $0.13 (0.02%) per year.
The legislation awaits further action by the Joint Committee on Financial Services.