Check-Up on the Massachusetts Health Plan

Scott McKay of the Providence Journal reports on the changes that have come about since Massachusetts enacted its plan to bring universal health coverage to the state. From the article:

[...] Manghan is one of nearly 200,000 of Massachusetts’ more than 6.4 million residents who were uninsured and have signed up for coverage under the state’s ambitious plan — the first time any state has aimed to insure 100 percent of its population.

He fits the model of the largest segment of uninsured state residents — a man in his 20s or 30s. This group is what Governor Patrick, in a recent speech at Brown University, called the “young masters of the universe� — people who are not sick and “think they are going to live forever.�

To reach this group, Commonwealth Care has aggressively signed up state residents to new health insurance policies under a plan that has been so successful so far that the state is now worried about how much it will cost taxpayers to subsidize the effort at a time when the New England economy is flat and the state is short of money. One early projection shows the costs to the state could be $157 million higher than originally thought.

In Rhode Island, Democratic Lt. Gov. Elizabeth Roberts has gathered a group of health experts and representatives of business, organized labor, hospitals, insurance companies and political figures to determine whether elements of the Massachusetts plan could be successfully adopted by Rhode Island, where about 10 percent of residents are uninsured. [full text]

I hope we can prioritize getting everyone insured in Rhode Island, as they have done in Massachusetts. But we also need to look at ways to decrease dependence on expensive and ineffective medical care. USA Today recently did a series of articles called “Prescription for Change” which outlined a number of ways we could decrease costs and increase quality. One way is to allow states to give people the option of limiting their end of life care, helping them with forms that clarify advance directives. Another way is for doctors to perform less surgeries that are costly and often ineffective. Another is to make sure medicines are safe before they are used, and to use older, cheaper medicines when the newer, expensive options are not proven to be more effective and may have more dangerous side effects.

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One thought on “Check-Up on the Massachusetts Health Plan

  1. As a Massachusetts resident, I remain leery of health care reform that puts too much emphasis on individual mandates (i.e., you must purchase health insurance) and does little to address the spiraling costs of health coverage and care. Today’s New York Times offers an in-depth editorial on this very topic, entitled “The High Cost of Health Care”. It’s worth checking out.

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