Study Examines Spending Under Massachusetts Health Insurance Law
The proportion that employers, state residents and the Massachusetts government pay for health coverage after the implementation of the Massachusetts health insurance law in 2006 is about the same as paid the year before the law went into effect, according to a study released on Monday by the Center for Health Law and Economics at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, the Boston Globe reports. The report was commissioned by the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts Foundation.
Researchers also determined that overall spending on health care coverage increased by $4.7 billion, or 23%, to $25.5 billion in 2007, compared with nearly $21 billion in 2005. According to the report, 60% of the spending increase was caused by health care inflation unrelated to the law, and 31% was associated with new enrollment in existing health coverage options, such as employer-sponsored health coverage or Medicaid. The 2006 law requires that all state residents obtain insurance and that all employers offer insurance to their workers. "More consumers have coverage, the study found, but they are paying more than previously," according to the Globe. The Globe reports that residents paid approximately $16 million in penalties for not complying with the requirement, while employers paid $7.7 million.
Michael Widmer, president of the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation, said, "With all the criticism from the left and the right before health reform started -- that individuals will have to pay more or that government will have to pay too much -- this says both of the concerns are unfounded."
Health Care for All, a group that helped develop the 2006 law, is urging state lawmakers to pass legislation that would increase employers' obligation to contribute to coverage costs. Lindsey Tucker, a policy manager with the group, "Our challenge moving forward is to ensure health reform's continued affordability for the state, employers, and individuals" (Lazar, Boston Globe, 4/7).