Massachusetts Law Would Cost $9.4 Billion More in California
It would cost about $9.4 billion more to expand health insurance coverage in California under a plan modeled after a Massachusetts law than Massachusetts estimates it will cost in that state, according to an analysis by Health Policy Solutions, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. The analysis estimates that a similar plan to expand health insurance coverage in California would cost about $1,450 per uninsured state resident (Colliver, San Francisco Chronicle, 4/27).
The Massachusetts legislation would require all residents to purchase health insurance by July 1, 2007, and would create a low-cost, state-subsidized health insurance program for residents with incomes up to 300% of the federal poverty level (California Healthline, 4/26).
The analysis, which will be released on Thursday, attributed the cost difference to the states' socioeconomic and demographic differences.
For example, nearly 20% of California residents are uninsured, compared with about 13% of Massachusetts residents. Massachusetts employers offer health benefits more widely than California employers, according to the Chronicle.
In addition, Massachusetts spends four to six times more in state funding per uninsured resident than California does for uncompensated care. Such spending is $1,300 to $1,800 per uninsured resident in Massachusetts, compared with about $300 in California.
Mark Smith -- president of the California HealthCare Foundation, which commissioned the analysis -- questioned cost estimates for enacting the law in Massachusetts, saying, "All of the numbers are quite imprecise and speculative." He added that Massachusetts officials "can tell you what exactly the penalties are, but they can't tell you how much the insurance will cost and what it will cover" (San Francisco Chronicle, 4/27).