How’s that health care overhaul working out?
It’s too early to evaluate the effects of the nation’s health care overhaul; many of the elements of the Affordable Care Act won’t go into effect until 2014. But a new report offers a reality based window into what the country might expect.
Today the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts Foundation (which also hosts a fellowship I attended in 2009) released a five year progress report on Massachusetts’ health care reform.
Now, the national overhaul isn’t identical to the Massachusetts reform, but it’s pretty similar. Requiring residents to buy health insurance? Check. An online marketplace for buying it? Check.
Massachusetts is not Alabama or even Rhode Island, so reading this report isn’t the same as looking through a crystal ball, but it’s as close as we can get for now.
So what has Massachusetts accomplished? According to the report-
Massachusetts has achieved nearly universal health care coverage. The principle of shared responsibility and the combination of public programs and private requirements and incentives appear to have overcome the primary barriers to coverage, especially the inability of many low- and moderate-income individuals to afford adequate health insurance and the willingness of some people to forgo coverage even if they could afford it. Expanded coverage has been accompanied by improved access to needed care, and racial and ethnic disparities have been greatly reduced.
But these reforms haven’t been enough to solve the biggest health care issue- cost.
All of the stakeholders involved in shaping the 2006 health reform law now agree that the top priority for Massachusetts health care is to make it more affordable. There is also a broad consensus that reforms in provider payment need to be accompanied by significant improvements in the efficiency, effectiveness, and coordination of patient care and by an increased commitment to prevention, wellness, and public health.
I wonder what the progress report on that project will look like in five years…