In the first year of healthcare reform in Massachusetts, the number of uninsured adults has dropped substantially and access to care for low-income people has improved, according to two reports published online by the journal Health Affairs.
In fall 2006, 13% of nonelderly adults were uninsured in the state compared with 7% a year later, according to one study by the Urban Institute. The findings were based on two telephone surveys of approximately 3,000 Commonwealth residents between the ages of 18 and 64, conducted a year apart. There was no evidence that the expansion of publicly subsidized insurance has crowded out employer-sponsored plans, concluded Sharon Long, a principal research associate at the Urban Institute, who conducted the study.
Another report indicated that more than 355,000 Massachusetts residents had obtained health coverage as a result of the states reform measures, which included individual and employer mandates, subsidies and the expansion of government-sponsored programs. However, major insurers in the state have raised prices on average of between 8% and 12% in 2008 over the prior years, and this affordability issue is a an essential challenge to success, wrote John McDonough, senior adviser to Democratic Massachusetts Sen. Edward Kennedy on national health reform, and lead author of that paper. (For a slightly longer version of this story, please click here.)
-- by Rebecca Vesely