Home > Employee Benefits > Health reform in Massachusetts…5 years in

Health reform in Massachusetts…5 years in

It’s been five years since the landmark legislation that catapulted Massachusetts to the head of the national healthcare discussion. In 2006, a republican Governor and a democratic legislature joined together to pass Massachusetts health reform. The initial intent of Chapter 58 was the expansion of healthcare to all residents of the Commonwealth. At the time there was little conversation about the overall cost or quality of the care being delivered. Sound familiar? This is not dissimilar to what we saw only a few short year’s later on the federal level.

On this fifth anniversary, the Blue Cross Blue Shield Foundation released Health Reform in Massachusetts: Assessing the Results. This is a brief, very readable summary of some of the surveys conducted by various state agencies. Below are some of the highlights that have particular relevance to the what’s going on at the national level with healthcare legislation.

  • There has been no evidence of subsidized coverage “crowding out” employer-sponsored insurance, and employer offer rates have grown from 70 percent to 76 percent since implementation of reform. More Massachusetts employers are offering health insurance while national offer rates have remained flat at around 60%.
  • Employer offers of coverage have increased & take-up of employer-offered coverage has remained high. Employers have decreased their contributions towards the cost of employee health insurance as premiums have grown. Most employers have met the state’s “Fair Share” requirements.
  • Employee take-up of employee-sponsored insurance has remained strong and grown overall; from 78% of all firms in 2007 to 80% of all firms in 2009.
  • Ch. 58 intentionally focused on access to coverage; cost containment left for future reforms
  • Most significant cost containment element of Ch. 58 legislation was creation of a Health Care Quality and Cost Council to develop statewide goals for cost and quality and make cost and quality information transparent to consumers

Since implementation of MA health reform: 

  • Low-and moderate-income adults are less likely to report high out-of-pocket health expenses.
  • All adults, and lower-income adults in particular, experienced a significant decline in unmet health care needs due to cost.
  • Access to care increased for all adults, with significant increases in the use of doctors, preventive care, and dental services, and in the percent of adults with a usual source of care.
  • Unmet need for care decreased across middle and low-income, minority race/ethnicity, and chronically ill population groups.
  • Racial and ethnic disparities in access to and use of care have decreased significantly.

For more addition health reform information all the lastest reports, we invite you to visit WGA’s Health Reform Advisory Corner.

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