Health News Review

The following is a guest post submitted by Harold DeMonaco, MS, one of our expert story reviewers for HealthNewsReview.org.  The opinions stated are his.

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I, like many, read the internet version of my local newspaper.  And in doing so, I am provided with an opportunity to view the comments of my fellow residents on topics of importance.  My local newspaper is a bit right leaning and as a result, the vox populi is as well.

Many of those who post thoughts on current events do so with great fervor and some with great frequency.  The tone and tenor of the “discussions” can vary but were at their most vitriolic when writers could use pseudonyms.  Many of the most vocal appear to have departed when a requirement was made to self identify posts to the site.  Several continue to provide the rest of us with the fruits of their years and breadth of experience as well as their keen intellect.

Given the right leanings of the newspaper and the most vocal of the vox populi, it is not surprising that the Affordable Care Act (presumably a four letter word for many) is viewed in a somewhat negative fashion.  This is somewhat surprising since presumably the writers are either the beneficiaries of then Governor Romney’s surprising insight into healthcare or to the workings of President Johnson’s Great Society and Medicare.  Massachusetts has managed to insure just about every citizen in the state and has now enacted legislation to better control health care costs.  While there is work to be done to develop an ideal healthcare delivery system in Massachusetts and control costs, near universal access has been accomplished.

Why then do people object so strenuously to Obamacare?  Is it their fear of government control?  If so, the objectors should rightfully refuse Medicare, a pay as you go, government run insurance program managed by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid.  I suspect that the underlying reason is really rooted in economics.  In essence, it is a zero sum game. If you win something, I must lose something.

The Blue Cross Foundation of Massachusetts periodically publishes updates on the Massachusetts experiment.  Here are the latest findings:

  • 439,000 more Massachusetts residents have health insurance coverage than did before reform.
  • Massachusetts has the highest rate of insurance in the country with 98.1 percent of residents insured.
  • There has been no evidence of subsidized coverage “crowding out” employer-sponsored insurance, and employer offer rates have grown from 70 percent to 77 percent since implementation of reform.
  • Public support for Massachusetts health reform has remained strong with two out of three adults supporting reform.
  • Most employers believe health reform has been good for Massachusetts and 88 percent of Massachusetts physicians believe reform improved, or did not affect, care or quality of care.
  • The cost of health care and the annual rate of increase in health care spending remains a challenge.  With no intervention, per capita health care spending in Massachusetts is projected to nearly double by 2020.

Given the intensity of the debate around Obamacare, I would have assumed that more news stories would provide readers with more information about the Massachusetts experience.  More often than not however, readers are provided with partisan arguments for and against the Affordable Care Act.  While there is a good deal of noise, there often is little in the way of real information.

 

 

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