Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Massachusetts Residents Have Had Health Care Reform For Seven Years Now And Like It, So Why Wouldn't Everyone Else?

Massachusetts residents have been living with former Gov. Mitt Romney’s (R) signature health care reform law — widely acknowledged as the inspiration for Obamacare — since 2006. And according to a new poll conducted by the statewide physician group Massachusetts Medical Society, the vast majority of them are happy with their health care nearly a decade after Romneycare’s implementation.

The survey finds that 84 percent of Bay State residents are satisfied with their health coverage — considerably higher than the approximately 67 percent of Americans nationally who are happy with their health care. Specifically, respondents praised high quality of care and good access to medical services as the reasons for their satisfaction. An additional 75 percent said that finding the kind of medical care they need isn’t difficult.

Those results track with earlier polls on Massachusetts’ reform law. In 2011, a survey administered by state insurance officials found that 86 percent of residents were pleased with the range of services covered by plans under the law’s insurance marketplace and 82 percent were pleased with their choice of doctors.

Despite the general satisfaction, those polled in the new survey also cited concerns over the cost of health care, with a majority saying that they had paid more for health care this year than they did in 2012. Critics may argue that doesn’t bode well for medical costs under Obamacare, which contains many of the same provisions as the Massachusetts law.

However, the Affordable Care Act has several important provisions aimed at lowering costs that couldn’t have been implemented in a state law such as Romneycare. For instance, Obamacare has created new collaborative health care arrangements called “accountable care organizations” (ACOs) that reward doctors, nurses, pharmacists, and social workers for teaming up to provide Americans more intimate and personalized care while reducing their need to go to a hospital. Several of these ACOs have already shown signs of improving seniors’ care and cutting health care spending, which in turn may lower costs.

The ACA also makes several other changes to the health care industry that may be contributing to a historic slowdown in health care cost growth, which is rising at its lowest rate in 50 years. Obamacare incentivizes workplace wellness programs and community health initiatives that aim to improve Americans’ health and reduce their need to go to a hospital — which can also lower health care costs. If Massachusetts residents’ satisfaction with Romneycare is any indication, Americans could end up being quite satisfied with the health care they receive under national reform — and maybe even more so if health care costs continue to slow their rise.

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