The Task of Massachusetts: Spreading the Word About Reform
The poll itself found modest increases in public support for the components of the ACA, with the exception of the individual mandate. The questions on Massachusetts health reform show that the vast majority of the public is unaware of what's included in our health reform law:
- 65% are unsure that the Massachusetts reform law requires that everyone has or buys health insurance.
- 69% are unsure that everyone in Massachusetts now has health insurance. Another 10% say this is false.
- 69% are unsure that the health care reform bill is popular with most people in Massachusetts. And 13% think this is false.
We need to tell our story to the country.
And we have an important story to tell. The latest Massachusetts Health Reform Survey, compiled from a large random sample of Bay State adults, shows the state of Massachusetts coverage, access and affordability as of fall, 2010. Lead researcher Sharon Long has been conducting these surveys annually since 2006, tracking the impact of Massachusetts health reform.
Highlights from the report include:
Access and Usage of Care
There were sustained gains in access to and use of health care between 2006 and 2010.
- Gains in Usual Source of Care: Nonelderly adults were more likely to have a usual source of care. They were also more likely to have had a preventive care visit, specialist visit and dental visit.
- Declines in Hospital Use: First-time reductions in emergency department visits and hospital inpatient stays suggested improvements in the effectiveness of health care delivery.
- Declines in Unmet Need for Care: Between 2006 and 2010 there were reductions in unmet need for care for nonelderly adults including reductions in unmet need for doctor care, medical tests, treatment, follow-up care, and preventive care screening.
Affordability of Care
In Massachusetts and nationwide, rising health care costs continue to raise concern about the affordability of care. More than a quarter of adults in Massachusetts reported financial problems due to health care costs.
Still, the study found significant declines in out-of-pocket spending as the share of nonelderly adults in MA who spent 10% or more of family income on out-of-pocket health care costs decreased from 10% in 2006 to 6% in 2010. The study also reported declines in unmet need due to costs.
Support for Reform
- 66% of nonelderly adults in MA remain supportive of health reform. This level of support has remained steady since the implementation of reform.
- However, among the remaining adults, there has been a marked shift from a neutral position toward opposition (17% opposed to reform in 2006 versus 27% in 2010).
Employer Response to Reform
According to the study, there was no evidence that employers of nonelderly adults in MA were dropping or reducing the scope of coverage for their workers.
- The level of nonelderly workers insured by their employer has remained unchanged since before reform.
- The reported satisfaction levels in 2010 (over 70% of workers rated their health plans as very good or excellent) were as good as or better than those reported in 2006.
We have long been involved in letting our colleagues in other states know about the impact of health reform here. The new poll is a challenge to all of us in the Massachusetts health policy community to intensify our efforts.
-Kaitlyn Rhodes and Brian Rosman