In 2006, Massachusetts passed health care legislation that is remarkably similar to the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Like the ACA, the Massachusetts law focused on expanding health insurance for all the state’s 6.5 million residents.
Key provisions of the law included:
- Expanding public programs that are affordable
- Requiring adults to buy insurance or pay a fine
- Requiring employers with 11 or more full time employees to meet a minimum standard of coverage or pay an annual assessment of up to $295 per employee to help fund costs of uncompensated care. This has now been amended to apply to companies with 21 or more fulltime employees in 2013.
- Creating an insurance exchange—the Health Connector—making it easy for individuals and small businesses to find affordable insurance.
The arguments against this bill echo what is being said now—that small businesses cannot afford the reform; that businesses would pay the fine rather than offer insurance; that small employers would dump insurance. This is not what happened. Since the law passed in 2006:
- Nearly 2/3rd of Massachusetts residents continue to support the law
- Physician support is even higher at 70%
- Physicians say the quality of care has improved—19%; while 66% are neutral about the impact on quality; only 6% think the law has a negative impact
- Massachusetts has the lowest rate of uninsured in the country
- In 2006, 6.4% Massachusetts residents were uninsured, compared to 1.9% in 2010
- More employers offer insurance—77% today vs. 70% in 2005. Continue reading