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New Study: Health Care Reform Wins

In 2006, Massachusetts, with then-governor Mitt Romney at the wheel, passed a health care reform law very similar to the national-scale "Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act":http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Patient_Protection_and_Affordable_Care_Act...

by Michael Byrne
Jul 16 2011, 5:51pm

In 2006, Massachusetts, with then-governor Mitt Romney at the wheel, passed a health care reform law very similar to the national-scale Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, signed into law last year by President Obama. The Massachusetts plan requires every citizen to have a certain minimum level of health insurance, and either pays the cost entirely or partially for residents earning either 150-percent or 300-percent below the poverty level.

There’s more to it, of course. But that’s the nut. Some might say this is pretty reasonable. The PPACA is way, way more contrived, but it’s similar in principle. It’s also like public enemy number one of the Republican party. So it might be seen as a bit of a hitch that its Massachusetts predecessor is working, according to a new study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

Real quick, the numbers: 7.6-percent more residents have insurance. The state’s shown a 4.8-percent decrease in residents skipping out on getting care because of costs. Finally, 6.6-percent more residents have a primary care doctor.

“There had been lots of discussion in the media about the political and ethical aspects of requiring health insurance,” says Aakanksha Pande, the lead author of the study, in a statement. “But evidence of whether or not a health mandate works had not been established in a rigorous manner. We approached the issue from a neutral perspective and determined that, in Massachusetts, it does.”

Meanwhile, a Harvard study published in the New England Journal of Medicine on another Massachusetts-born health care innovation is also showing success. In 2009, Blue Cross introduced the Alternative Quality Contract, in which, the insurer paid health care groups big lump sums for care instead of paying per-treatment. Not only was care quality better, but overall health care costs dropped 2-percent. Right on.

Reach this writer at michaelb@motherboard.tv.