The public, including its “opinion makers”, is beginning to understand that the MA Health law rearranges deck chairs on the Titanic while throwing many uninsured and underinsured overboard to the sharks. A public backlash is sure to come. (to get a sense of the coming storm, see this one line excerpt from the below Daily News editorial):
“To risk oversimplifying a most complicated area of public policy: That’s what you get when you let the health insurance industry write the reforms.”
Cost Control and Health Care Reform
The cost of health care continues its inexorable rise, bringing with it a host of problems: more people uninsured or underinsured, more spending diverted from other purposes, employers’ profit margins shrunk, state and municipal budgets stressed. Presidential candidates from both parties have looked to Massachusetts’ health reform law for answers, but they won’t find effective cost controls here…
Think of it this way: An industry has a product to sell, in this case health insurance. It’s a profitable business because most people feel they must have the product, but not everybody. Some people, mostly young and healthy, feel they can get away without the product. Others simply can’t afford it. Since the product keeps getting more expensive, the number of people who aren’t buying it grows.
But there’s one way the industry can get everyone to buy its product: Have a law passed requiring it…
An additional dimension of the law that the editorial doesn’t touch on is the state residents who’ll be paying double and getting nothing.
There’s likely to be over 200,000+ of these individuals who can’t afford the mandated insurance and aren’t eligible for state subsidies nor for a “waiver” (state permission to remain uninsured – how perverse is that?). Under this law they are facing tax penalties of up to $920.00 annually, all for the pleasure of remaining uninsured.
There’s a much more effective way to do health system reform and it’s up to us to make it happen, step by step by step. These reforms certainly should not include taking steps that are largely headed in the opposite direction, as is the new MA mandated private health insurance law. Although it is a VERY good thing that many are newly insured under the law – is it sustainable? Many in this group are already facing higher premiums and higher co-pays and may not retain their coverage. It is very uncertain if the state can sustain the bloated financing mechanism (The Connector) that was created with such fanfare. Let’s learn from this tragic misuse of power and put our state on a successful course to sustainable health system reform and quality affordable healthcare for all.