Did Globe Forget Inflation Exists & Miss Amazing MassHealth Story?

Boston Globe reporter Jon Chesto had a great story on Sunday about how Gov. Baker is floating a plan to sharply increase the per-employee fee on companies that don’t provide health coverage. I’m greatly summarizing, but MassHealth enrollment has nearly doubled over the last decade, with a comparable increase in costs to the state. It’s hard to say exactly what the main driver is, but but workers are taking advantage broader eligibility under Obamacare/ACA, while employers may be cashing in by letting big government pay for their workers’ health care.

Accompanying the story is this graphic, designed to look like MassHealth spending is skyrocketing:


The problem is that these numbers aren’t adjusted for inflation (if they are, the graphic doesn’t say so). If you don’t adjust for inflation, everything is much more expensive over time. In my day, the ferry to Shelbyville only cost a nickel!

And here’s the thing: If you adjust for inflation, putting all the numbers in 2017 dollars, an amazing thing happens:



Have MassHealth’s per-member costs really not increased at all in real dollars over the last 10 years? If that’s the case, it’s an amazing story.

Recommended by jconway.


4 Comments . Leave a comment below.
  1. I've mentioned before ...

    that the Globe ought to be in the habit of using *annualized* rates of growth, for everything — public employee contracts, etc. “16% over four years” – I mean, a nice bump but not crazy.

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