Monday, March 25, 2013

Of The Massachusetts Health Care Insurance Reform Law and the Conservative Bubble

The Massachusetts Health Care Insurance Reform Law, which is virtually identical to the Affordable Care Act ("ObamaCare"), is a resounding success, there is no getting around it. Speakers at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), people like Michelle Bachmann, assert that the ACA is going to be poison for America. In her speech, Bachmann stated that the ACA, "...will kill Americans." Ron Paul has declared that the ACA is a, "Disaster for  America." And Conservatives keep the pressure on House Speaker John Boehner, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, and Republican heart-throb, Representative Paul Ryan, to keep up the fight to eradicate the ACA, which won't happen, but they'll keep on trying. Conservatives live inside the Ayn Rand/John Birch Bubble, and in that bubble free markets work, war is good, class warfare is necessary because the poor and unions are so very dangerous, women can't get pregnant when raped, contraception is still an issue, and supporting the troops means having no problem with veterans having to wait two years to get help for mental illness developed while serving their country. Also in that bubble, the Affordable Care Act is a dangerous and comes from a radical Socialist president, Hell-bent on ruining this country.

Some say that Massachusetts is too small a state to provide a useful comparison to the ACA. The reality is that Massachusetts is bigger than 26 states, regardless of our small land area. Nebraska, for example, has fewer than 1.5 million people, while Massachusetts has about 7 million people. Greater Boston has a population of almost 5 million people, making it bigger than the metropolitan areas of San Francisco, Phoenix, Seattle, Baltimore, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Denver, and Tampa.

So Massachusetts is a fairly large state by population with a diverse population, and a complex economy. I think it provides a fine example in microcosm of how the ACA might function on a national level.

The object of the Massachusetts plan (MHCIRL) is to provide all citizens in MA with access to affordable health insurance and to eliminate the “free riders” who expect the government or taxpayers to pay for their health care. This plan does an extraordinary job of covering nearly half a million people who were previously uninsured, and it is done without raising taxes one penny. Under the MHCRIL, the citizens of Massachusetts also retain their health coverage when they change jobs, or suffer financial hardship.

The accomplishments of the MHCRIL after 7 years:

*Nearly every Massachusetts citizen is covered. A recent study showed that 99.4% of adults and 99.8% of children now have medical insurance. This is by far the highest rate in the nation. The overall national rate is 83%, with Texas having the worst rates in the nation at 74%. In Texas, one out of every five children has no health insurance.

*Many more businesses are offering medical insurance to their employees. Right now, 76% of employers offer medical insurance to their employees, compared with 70% just five years ago. The national rate remains at 60%.

*Surprisingly, the overall cost of the program to the commonwealth is only 1.1% of  the budget. Early predictions were that the cost would be 1.5 - 2.5%. This an astounding indicator of the success of the program. How often have you heard of a government program coming in well under budget?

*The impact of the MHCRIL on the cost of health care premiums for individuals who buy insurance without the help of an employer have gone down dramatically, as well. According to, individuals who bought insurance on their own saw a major drop in premiums, as much as a 40% decline, according to some figures. On average, premiums dropped between 18%-20% for the average individual buying health insurance on their own.

* The program is exceptionally popular among commonwealth residents. Studies repeatedly confirm that 70%- 80% of Massachusetts residents are happy with the plan and would not go back to the old system if given the chance.

As I said, a resounding success in Massachusetts. It will be for the nation, as well. The next step is a public option, so the for-profit health care insurance companies (the only flaw in the program) can be  taken out of the equation.


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