STATES SHOULD EXERCISE CAUTION BEFORE FOLLOWING MASSACHUSETTS
July 16, 2008
Interest in the Massachusetts health reform plan remains high, says Grace-Marie Turner, president of the Galen Institute. However, problems are brewing in Massachusetts that should make other states take caution.
- Of the 330,000 those newly enrolled in insurance in Massachusetts, at least 232,000 are getting free or heavily subsidized coverage (paid for by taxpayers).
- It is much more difficult to convince people who do not receive subsidies -- and face growing penalties and fines for not enrolling -- to buy insurance.
- Several hundred thousand people remain uninsured, and they face rising health insurance costs, growing fines, and a complex waiver process.
- For example, a family earning $70,001 per year is expected to pay $6,600 a year for health insurance, or they will be fined $1,824.
- The plan is straining the state budget -- the governor has requested $869 million for fiscal year 2009, but state authorities warn the true cost will be much closer to $1.1 billion.
- Insurance costs are continuing to rise -- the state has approved a 12 percent rate increase for health insurance for next year.
- Some safety net hospitals are threatening bankruptcy, because they are receiving lower payments for uncompensated care for uninsured patients.
- The shortage of primary care doctors is making it difficult in some parts of the state for people who are newly insured to find a doctor who will take new patients.
Massachusetts is doing the remainder of the country a favor by showing us the complexities of states' attempt to achieve universal health coverage, says Turner. Other states, including California, Illinois and Wisconsin, have tried to launch similar plans. So far, all have collapsed when they saw the price tag.
Source: Grace-Marie Turner, "States Should Exercise Caution Before Following Massachusetts," Heartland Institute, July 2008.
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