Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The kinda, sorta, maybe successful Massachusetts health plan

According to the Boston Globe, the Patrick administration is telling everybody that Massachusetts' health care mandate is a big hit:

Nearly three-quarters of previously uninsured Massachusetts residents now have medical coverage under the state's landmark campaign to extend health insurance to virtually all Bay Staters, according to a report released yesterday by Governor Deval Patrick's administration.
Reading on, one suspects it's all a PR effort to pry some more money out of the federal government:

Still, the economics of the ambitious campaign remains uncertain. Massachusetts is locked in delicate negotiations with federal authorities to determine if the state will continue getting billions of dollars in special assistance to help make the experiment work.
There are savings to be made:

For example, from July through September 2007, the most recent period for which data is available, the number of visits to hospitals and community health centers by the uninsured declined by 37 percent, compared with the same period a year earlier, the report said. That drop translated to a $68 million savings in the pool of money the state sets aside to cover the uninsured.
And bills to be paid:

Massachusetts has requested more than $11 billion in federal support during the next three years to pay for dozens of healthcare programs, including its crown jewel, its nearly universal health coverage system. The federal payments, which are crucial to keeping the landmark program afloat, were set to expire June 30, but the state has received four extensions.
Let's review the numbers: the Bay State wants $3.66 billion/year in federal cash (not including the cost to Massachusetts taxpayers) to save - by the latest quarterly estimate - $272 million/year, for a 7.4% return on investment. That's the kind of "success" that only the planner of the Big Dig could love.

Just for kicks, let's put it another way: the Boston Globe article estimated that before the new health care mandate, there were 600,000 uninsured Bay Staters. Splitting up $3.66 billion/year among them is a fat check for $6100.

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