Why Romneycare Is Working In Four Graphs

Don’t tell Mitt Romney or the Republicans who argue that Romneycare is the blueprint for the Affordable Care Act, but a new analysis of Massachusetts’ 2006 health care reform published yesterday in Health Affairs finds that the law has lowered the number of uninsured, increased employer-sponsored coverage, and reduced first-time emergency department visits. Here are the full results in four graphs:

1) Health insurance coverage among nonelderly adults in Massachusetts increased from 86.6 percent in 2006 to 94.2 percent in 2010. More than two-thirds of nonelderly adults (68.0 percent) also reported coverage through an employer. This is significantly higher than the level in 2006 (64.4 percent), before health reform:

2) In 2010 compared to 2006, nonelderly adults were more likely to have a usual place to go when they were sick or needed advice about their health (up 4.7 percentage points), and were more likely to have had a preventive care visit (up 5.9 percentage points), a specialist visit (up 3.7 percentage points), multiple doctor visits (up 5.0 percentage points) and a dental care visit (up 5.0 percentage points):

3) During the 2006–10 period there were drops in the shares of adults reporting a hospital stay and using the emergency department — the first shifts in those measures since 2006:


4) There have been gains in the affordability of care for adults since 2006, as evident in a lower burden from out-of-pocket health care spending (excluding premiums) and less unmet need for care because of cost. The share of nonelderly adults who reported high levels of out-of-pocket health care spending (10 percent or more of family income) was lower in 2010 (6.1 percent) than in 2006 (9.8 percent):

The state is still experiences gaps in coverage and Gov. Deval Patrick (D) is urging lawmakers to control costs by adopting reforms that reward providers for delivering care more efficiently But overall, “The Bay State’s 2006 health reform initiative has continued to fare well despite a severe economic downturn and the continued escalation of health care costs in the state” and the very dire predictions of many conservative pessimists.