Massachusetts’ health law laid the groundwork for improvements, but there are opportunities for further reform, particularly those related to cost, says a review authored by UMass Medical School health policy experts and released on the 10th anniversary of the health care law by the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts (BCBSMA) Foundation.
10 Years of Impact: A Literature Review of Chapter 58 of The Acts of 2006, released April 12, summarizes the effects of the health care reform bill that was signed into law 10 years ago by then-Gov. Mitt Romney. The review was prepared by Kelly Anthoula Love, JD, and Robert W. Seifert, MPA, of the Center for Health Law and Economics, a unit within UMass Medical School’s Commonwealth Medicine division, and commissioned by the foundation.
The review presents findings in various categories, including insurance coverage, access to care, health care utilization, health outcomes, economic impacts and affordability. The most direct effect of the law was the rapid increase in the number of Massachusetts residents who had health insurance. Massachusetts became the state with the highest rate of insurance coverage and it maintains that ranking today, according to the summary. More than 95 percent of the state’s adult residents were covered by a health insurance plan in 2015.
Among the other key findings are:
- The percentage of children without coverage dropped by more than half after reform.
- Overall improvements in access were uneven among different groups.
- The unmet needs of Latino, black and middle-income individuals, along with those in fair or poor health, remain a challenge.
- Overall health, particularly for those with lower incomes, improved.
- Financial distress has been reduced, especially among those with limited access to credit markets before health care reform.
Love and Seifert said the law sought nearly universal health care coverage by expanding MassHealth, the Massachusetts Medicaid program; creating publicly subsidized private coverage, now known as ConnectorCare, for low- and moderate-income people who were not eligible for MassHealth; creating the Health Connector to make private coverage more accessible and affordable; establishing contribution requirements for employers; and requiring that all adults have health insurance unless an affordable option isn’t available.
The review includes a full bibliography as a companion to the fact sheet.