A new survey out of Massachusetts questions whether the newly insured
under that state’s mandatory health insurance law are really protected.
According to a new poll, the cost of health coverage is still a major concern for patients:
Some are postponing treatments, and others are not filling
prescriptions, because of high costs or an inability to pay bills from
earlier procedures, according to the survey by The Boston Globe and the
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts Foundation.
A third of those surveyed said the cost of care is their biggest health
concern, and 39 percent ranked it among their top two health concerns.
No other concern came close.
Thirteen percent of residents with insurance said they were unable to
pay for some health services in the past year. The same percentage of
insured people said they did not fill at least one prescription because
it was too expensive or their insurance copayment was too high. The
numbers rise to 14 percent if both insured and uninsured residents are
Two years into the state’s pioneering healthcare experiment to insure
nearly everyone, coverage is almost universal, with 97 percent of
Massachusetts adults reporting they have some sort of insurance,
according to the survey. Yet for some that did not translate into
getting needed care.
Proponents have been declaring victory because the number of uninsured
fell in Massachusetts, but it’s not a success if that insurance isn’t
covering the medical bills.
High costs and deductibles are still a problem. That was the result of another study which found that 6.1% of Massachusetts patients were underinsured
(defined as having high costs not covered by their health insurance
plan). That study praised Massachusetts because the underinsured rate
fell in comparison to national increases, but it’s a hollow victory if
insurance isn’t protecting patients when the number of underinsured
decreased from the year before by less than 20%.
Mandates make the wrong judgment call to insure everyone now and worry
about costs later. It doesn’t work when costs continue to rise and
having insurance doesn’t translate into access to health coverage.