Massachusetts, Hawaii Offer Lessons for U.S. Health Reform Efforts
Lawmakers working on national health care reform legislation could take lessons from the successes and pitfalls of Massachusetts' health care overhaul effort, the Los Angeles Times reports.
In 2006, Massachusetts passed a health care bill that aimed to:
- Help low-income residents pay for insurance policies;
- Encourage competition through a regulated health insurance exchange; and
- Provide health insurance coverage for all state residents.
As a result of the law, 96% of Massachusetts residents currently have health insurance coverage.
However, some observers say state lawmakers failed to incorporate cost control measures into the health care initiative.
The state currently has few regulations about the amount insurers should pay hospitals and physicians for their services. As a result, many residents have seen insurance premiums rise during the past three years.
Some observers say lawmakers involved in national health reform efforts should take heed of Massachusetts' situation and integrate cost control measures into the overhaul bills (Oliphant/Geiger, Los Angeles Times, 10/17).
Meanwhile, Hawaii's health care system also offers lessons for lawmakers involved with national health reform efforts.
Since 1974, Hawaii has required all employers to provide health insurance benefits to any employee who works at least 20 hours per week. The law requires health plans to offer coverage with low out-of-pocket costs and copayments and no deductibles.
As a result, nearly 90% of Hawaii's population has health insurance coverage, and the state has some of the lowest health insurance premiums and Medicare costs in the country.Some observers have expressed concern that national health care reform actually could allow Hawaii employers to reduce the quality of their health benefits, pushing state legislators to seek exemptions for Hawaii from some provisions of national reform legislation (Harris, New York Times, 10/17). This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.