Mass. reform increased insured, didn't cut costs

Health reform in Massachusetts has increased the number of people with health insurance coverage significantly, but it hasn't helped stem rising healthcare costs.

Because the Massachusetts reform served as the model for the federal health reform law, the Bay State's progress is relevant to the rest of the country. Essentially, "the findings for Massachusetts are a reminder that major gains in coverage and associated benefits are possible" under health reform, according to a survey report published in the journal Health Affairs.

Roughly 94 percent of Massachusetts residents aged 19 to 64 are insured as a result of the 2006 law, up from 87 percent insured before the law was enacted, reported The Boston Globe. Additionally, 68 percent had employer-sponsored health plans, up from 64 percent in 2006, thereby demonstrating that employers aren't dropping coverage under the state's health reform.

Other good news includes a 3.8 percent decrease in overall emergency room visits and another 3.8 percent reduction in the use of emergency departments for non-emergency conditions.

However, healthcare costs have remained high for most families in Massachusetts. About 50 percent of the survey respondents said they spent more on healthcare in 2010 than in the prior year, while 25 percent weren't sure they could afford healthcare in the coming year. Premiums also increased from $1,011 in 2006 to $1,200 in 2010 for single coverage and rose from $3,128 in 2006 to $3,444 in 2010 for family coverage, according to the Health Affairs article.

To learn more:
- read the Health Affairs article
- read the Boston Globe article
- see the National Journal article

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