Healthcare is Sick

Is there a cure?

The Massachusetts model for health care

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Massachusetts reformed its health care system in 2006 with a combination of partially subsidized insurance plans and more regulation of private insurance companies, which has given it the lowest uninsured rate in the country.

In 2006 13 percent of Massachusetts’s residents were uninsured, but as of June 2008 this figure was down to 2.6 percent, according to the state Division of Health Care Finance and Policy.  Since insurance is provided to more middle and lower class people through several different subsidized plans, less people are relying on the state’s Health Safety Net fund (HSN), which finances medical visits for those making below 400 percent of the federal poverty line and are not eligible for Mass Health, the state Medicaid program.   During the first two quarters of fiscal year 2008, HSN visits fell by 36 percent, from 770,000 to just under 500,000.

The 2006 health care reform legislation also made private insurance more affordable.  Consumers can now purchase private premiums through Commonwealth Choice, a state program that regulates a group of six private insurance plans, selected by competitive bidding and given the Health Connector’s “Seal of Approval”.  Between 2007 and 2008 premiums available through Commonwealth Choice increased an average of 5 percent, while private insurance premiums before health care reform often had double digit annual percentage increases.[2]

Such cost containment is also needed nationally, as employer- sponsored insurance premiums have increased 119 percent over the last decade. Gloria DiFulvio, a Professor in UMass-Amherst’s Public Health Department, said the “public option” often discussed in the current health care debate would help to contain costs, as insurance companies would have to offer cheaper services to compete with the government sponsored plan.

Right now, many insurance companies have little incentive to produce a product that would do well in a competitive marketplace, as shown by a 2007 study by the American Medical Association- in 94 percent of metropolitan areas across the country, the market is dominated by no more than two insurance companies.


[1]https://www.mahealthconnector.org/portal/site/connector/menuitem.d7b34e88a23468a2dbef6f47d7468a0c?fiShown=default

[2]https://www.mahealthconnector.org/portal/site/connector/menuitem.d7b34e88a23468a2dbef6f47d7468a0c?fiShown=default

[3] http://www.commonwealthfund.org/Content/News/News-Releases/2009/Aug/Employer-Sponsored-Health-Insurance-Premiums-Increase-119-Percent.aspx

[4] http://www.ama-assn.org/ama1/pub/upload/mm/368/compstudy_52006.pdf

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Written by Chris Russell

September 27, 2009 at 4:21 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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