Massachusetts Health Reforms

Uninsurance Remains Low, Self-Reported Health Status Improves as State Prepares to Tackle Costs

The Massachusetts health reform initiative enacted into law in 2006 continued to fare well in 2010, with uninsurance rates remaining quite low and employer-sponsored insurance still strong. Access to health care also remained strong, and first-time reductions in emergency department visits and hospital inpatient stays suggested improvements in the effectiveness of health care delivery in the state. There were also improvements in self-reported health status.

The affordability of health care, however, remains an issue for many people, as the state, like the nation, continues to struggle with the problem of rising health care costs. And although nearly two-thirds of adults continue to support reform, among nonsupporters there has been a marked shift from a neutral position toward opposition (17.0% opposed to reform in 2006 compared with 26.9% in 2010).

Taken together, Massachusetts’s experience under the 2006 reform initiative, which became the template for the structure of the Affordable Care Act, highlights the potential gains and the challenges the nation now faces under federal health reform.

This study was not funded directly by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), however, the initial research work was supported by a grant under RWJF's State Health Access Reform Evaluation (SHARE) program. The study's author, Sharon Long, recently received the HSR Impact Award for her survey work under the SHARE project.