Massachusetts Mandated State Health Insurance Plan

As usual, what sounded like a great idea is turning into a nightmare, and a costly nightmare at that!

Thank you Sandy at Junkfood Science for finding and writing about this particular State Plan.

How’s that working?

In 2006, Massachusetts signed into law the nation’s first state universal health insurance program. It was to be the test ground to see how well universal health coverage would work here in the United States. So, why do we hear so little about how it’s going?

Background

As this third wealthiest state in the country focused its resources on ensuring all of its residents were insured, it quickly became apparent that the state’s estimates of what it would cost taxpayers had been underestimated by more than five-fold. The program also created an enormous set of new bureaucracies (no less than ten new agencies, six financial-management funds, and three new programs) to establish, oversee and enforce… and proved more expensive and less efficient.

You can read the FULL STORY here.

You have to wonder exactly who thought this plan up and how they managed to UNDER estimate the costs involved by so much!

So far it doesn’t seem to be going according to plan. This doesn’t surprise me at all. What is surprising is that there seems to be amazement that employers and employees are paying more for premiums. I mean did they really expect the state to manufacture this insurance at no additional cost to the taxpayers (employers and employees)? Who did they think was going to pay for all the people who don’t work or don’t make enough to afford health insurance?

Less surprising to me is that at the same time, coverage has been cut back also. But then that’s managed care for you. The lack of primary care doctors is sad and scary also. I heard recently that there more and more med school students claimed they would be going into specialties, since that is where the money was. There is no money in being a primary care doctor. So much for going into medicine because you really want to help others.

And yet it IS the primary care doctor that is needed most as he/she is the point person for referrals. With Managed Care health insurance you can’t make those decisions yourself, you have to be referred to be covered and even then the insurance companies try to get out of paying.

Even if you are fortunate enough to already have a primary care doctor, try getting an appointment in a hurry when you’re ill. They are so busy there aren’t enough hours in the day for them. So what do you do when you really ARE ill and DO need the doctor? Guess you do like the uninsured do and go to the nearest emergency room.

In the article the Junkfood Science blog mentions, something else caught my attention that raised my blood pressure.

Legislators hope the law passed in July to control the cost and improve the quality of healthcare will draw more primary care doctors into the workforce. Richard Cauchi of the National Conference of State Legislatures said no other state has passed so many initiatives in a single year to increase access to primary care.

The Massachusetts law includes $1.5 million this year to help the University of Massachusetts Medical School expand its class size – from 103 students to as many as 125 – and to waive tuition and fees for students who agree to work as primary care doctors in Massachusetts for four years after they finish training.

The state also is spending $1.7 million this year to repay medical school loans of doctors who agree to work in community health centers, and at least $500,000 to pay off debt for doctors who agree to work in primary care in underserved areas for at least two years; the average medical school student graduates with about $150,000 in debt. A new healthcare workforce center will identify underserved areas.

The law also directs state officials to develop a housing grant or loan program that will help doctors buy houses, including money for down payments, mortgage interest buy-downs, and closing costs.

Legislators don’t know how many primary care doctors the package will attract to the state, but they believe it could be a significant number.

A loan repayment program started last year with a $5 million grant from Bank of America – the state also contributed $1.7 million last year – has attracted 45 doctors and 19 nurse practitioners. They will work in community health centers for two to three years in exchange for $20,000 to $75,000 in loan repayment.

You can read THIS article here.

Now I understand a need to attract new doctors…………..but where is all this money coming from? Where did the State get that $1.7 million that they contributed? Why is it that the taxpayers have to always bear the financial burdens of poorly thought out “plans” that elected officials make?

Rather sad we have to almost bribe doctors into primary care, isn’t it? Wouldn’t it be nice if all employers offered to help employees get homes, settle in, etc?

Maybe if we allowed doctors to actually BE doctors and care for their patients instead of pushing pill for the dope dealers (big pharma) there wouldn’t be a shortage of primary care doctors. Maybe if we actually allowed doctors to choose the course of treatment that was in their patients’ best interest there wouldn’t be a shortage of doctors nor an over abundance of patients.

I suggest we demand some solid answers and plans before we allow anyone in government to “offer us universal healthcare” – when what they mean is health “insurance” coverage. I suggest we make them take a good long hard look at Massachusetts’ brilliant health insurance plan first. I suggest we make them tell us HOW they plan on reigning in healthcare costs to start with.

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~ by swfreedomlover on September 27, 2008.

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