Contrary

Massachusetts

In 2006, the state of Massachusetts passed a sweeping overhaul of the state’s health-care system. The system, which influenced the Obama administration’s plans for national reform, has since faced unexpected and unchecked growth in costs, both to the government and individuals, forcing the government to cut benefits and raise taxes.

Now analysts say that without significant policy changes, the program’s long-term viability is in doubt. State officials have successfully increased health insurance coverage in the state: With only 2.6 percent of the population now lacking health insurance, its insurance rate is the highest in the nation.

But high coverage levels have been achieved at a substantial price, and one that is expected to increase over time. For the state’s policymakers, rapidly rising health-care costs are the central problem with the plan.

Since 2006, the cost of the state’s insurance program has increased by 42 percent, or almost $600 million. According to an analysis by the Rand Corporation, “in the absence of policy change, health care spending in Massachusetts is projected to nearly double to $123 billion in 2020, increasing 8 percent faster than the state’s gross domestic product (GDP).”

Meanwhile, the cost of insurance premiums in the state is the highest in the nation, and double-digit rate hikes are expected again in 2010. The worry, shared across the political spectrum, is that the state’s health-care spending will overwhelm the state’s budget. Already, it has forced service cuts that have irked those on both sides of the aisle.

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March 2, 2010 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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