Writing at Forbes, Sally Pipes explains several trends in Massachusetts. You’ll notice that these are the same metrics on which liberals and conservatives, during the health-reform debate, differed on whether ObamaCare would make things better or worse. For now, the answer seems clear.
On expanding insurance coverage versus expanding actual access to health care:
When signing the bill into law, Romney claimed that it would “take about three years to get all of our citizens insured.” In 2006 the number of uninsured in Massachusetts ranged from 372,000 to 618,000. Five years later, over 100,000 remain uninsured.
So more Bay Staters do have insurance. But that doesn’t mean they’ve been able to get care.
The Massachusetts Medical Society found that 56% of physicians are not taking on new patients. Wait times for appointments are climbing. Just two years after reform took root, one clinic in Western Massachusetts had amassed a waiting list of 1,600 patients.
On whether reform would lead to more people being able to purchase health insurance, or simply more subsidies:
RomneyCare expanded coverage simply by putting more people on the dole. Since 2006, 440,000 people have been added to state-funded insurance rolls. Medicaid enrollment alone is up nearly 25%, and Massachusetts is struggling to cover the cost.
Of the previously uninsured individuals who have signed up, 68% are receiving free or subsidized coverage.
On whether the reforms would lead to fewer people going to expensive emergency rooms for routine treatments:
Despite the expansion of insurance coverage, people are continuing to seek routine medical care in expensive emergency rooms. Emergency room visits climbed 9 percent — or 3 million visits — between 2004 and 2008. The bill for uncompensated care has exceeded $400 million.
On whether the cost projections for the reforms were accurate:
Originally projected to cost $1.8 billion this year, the reform effort is now expected to exceed those estimates by $150 million. An analysis from the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation found that state spending on health care reform grew from $1.04 billion in 2006 to about $1.75 billion in 2010. Over the next 10 years, RomneyCare will likely cost $2 billion more than predicted.
On whether the reforms would lead to slower growth of insurance premiums:
A 2010 study published in the Forum for Health Economics & Policy found that health insurance premiums in Massachusetts were increasing at a rate 3.7 percent slower than the national average prior to the implementation of RomneyCare. Post-overhaul, they’re increasing 5.8 percent faster. Annual premium hikes in the state have averaged 7.5 percent since 2000.
The average employer-sponsored family health plan costs nearly $14,000. That’s higher than anywhere else in the nation.
And, finally, on whether the public would learn the love the law once it was in place:
A poll by Suffolk University found that 49 percent of state residents do not think that RomneyCare has been beneficial. That represents a 20 percent drop since the law passed in 2006. A mere 38 percent felt the law was helping.
A pretty grim picture of what’s likely in store for us nationwide.
– By Kyle Wingfield