Massachusetts’s 2006 Health Law Saved Lives
A new study examining Massachusetts' 2006 health law reported that a mandatory health care system could indeed save lives. According to the health economists, since the health law was adopted, the state's mortality rate fell significantly.
"There is a change happening in Massachusetts that is not happening elsewhere," study's lead author, Dr. Benjamin D. Sommers, said reported by the Los Angeles Times.
For this study, the researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health, Brigham and Women's Hospital and the Urban Institute counted all the death cases within Massachusetts from 2001 to 2010. They found that from 2006 to 2010, four years after the health law was enacted, the mortality rate, which is measured by the number of deaths per 100,000 people, fell by around three percent. If the country's death rate fell by three percent, that would translate to 17,000 fewer death per year for adults under 65.
The team reported that the mortality rates fell the most in counties with a high percentage of poor people who did not previously have health care coverage. When the researchers compared these counties' mortality rates to the rates in comparable counties outside of the state, they found that the other counties' rates remained mostly unchanged. The study did not find any declines in the mortality rate for seniors aged 65 and older.
Even though this study's findings suggest that a nationwide mandatory health care system, which is being put into effect, can improve the country's mortality rate, many experts have noted that Massachusetts has very different dynamics. First off, Massachusetts is a whiter and more affluent state in comparison to other states. Second, there are more doctors per capita. Third, there are less uninsured people to cover.
"Health care is a much more involved process - you don't just sign up and suddenly get well," said Joseph Antos, a health economist at the conservative American Enterprise Institute reported by the New York Times.
The study, "Changes in Mortality After Massachusetts Health Care Reform: A Quasi-experimental Study," was published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.