Massachusetts Miracle or Massachusetts Miserable: What the Failure of the “Massachusetts Model” Tells Us about Health Care Reform

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When Massachusetts passed its pioneering healthcare reforms in 2006, critics warned that they wouldresult in a slow but steady spiral downward toward agovernment-run health care system. Three years later,those predictions appear to be coming true:

  • Although the state has reduced the number ofresidents without health insurance, 200,000people remain uninsured. Moreover, the increasein the number of insured is primarilydue to the state's generous subsidies, not thecelebrated individual mandate.
  • Health care costs continue to rise much fasterthan the national average. Since 2006, totalstate health care spending has increased by28 percent. Insurance premiums have increasedby 8–10 percent per year, nearly doublethe national average.
  • New regulations and bureaucracy are limitingconsumer choice and adding to healthcare costs.
  • Program costs have skyrocketed. Despite tax increases,the program faces huge deficits. The stateis considering caps on insurance premiums, cutsin reimbursements to providers, and even thepossibility of a "global budget" on health carespending—with its attendant rationing.
  • A shortage of providers, combined with increaseddemand, is increasing waiting times tosee a physician.

With the "Massachusetts model" frequentlycited as a blueprint for health care reform, it isimportant to recognize that giving the governmentgreater control over our health care systemwill have grave consequences for taxpayers, providers,and health care consumers. That is the lessonof the Massachusetts model.