Tuesday, November 4, 2008

High Costs for the Massachusetts Health Law--Sustainability is Now the Question

The Center for Studying Health System Change has just released a study examining the state of the important health reform law in Massachusetts.

As one of the co-author's put it, "Improving access to heath care coverage has been a clear emphasis of the reform, but little has been done to address rapidly rising health care costs, raising questions about the longer-term viability of the reform."

I can tell you that from my experiences in Mass, employer health care trend is running in the 10% range--well above the national average and clearly something unsustainable in this or any other economic climate.

From the study's summary:
"Passage of health reform legislation in Massachusetts required significant bipartisan compromise and buy in among key stakeholders, including employers. However, findings from a recent follow-up study by the Center for Studying Health System Change (HSC) suggest two important developments may threaten employer support as the reform plays out. First, improved access to the nongroup—or individual—insurance market, the availability of state-subsidized coverage, and the costs of increased employee take up of employer-sponsored coverage and rising premiums potentially weaken employers’ motivation and ability to provide coverage. Second, employer frustration appears to be growing as the state increases employer responsibilities. While the number of uninsured people has declined significantly, the high cost of the reform has prompted the state to seek additional financial support from stakeholders, including employers. Improving access to health care coverage has been a clear emphasis of the reform, but little has been done to address escalating health care costs. Yet, both must be addressed, otherwise long-term viability of Massachusetts’ coverage initiative is questionable."
You can access the entire document here.

With the Massachusetts health care law looking so similar to the Obama health plan, just how Massachusetts is doing will be critical to the national health care debate.

My own conclusion has always been that the Massachusetts health care law will turn out to be an incomplete result for an unsustainable cost. Earlier post.
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