The State of Massachusetts set a new landmark in 2006, when they passed a bill to make buying health insurance compulsory. However it seems despite this new law, the numbers of people who are becoming bankrupt because of medical bills is still rising.
According to the American Journal of Medicine the total number of personal bankruptcies rose from 7,504 in 2007 to a staggering 10,093 in 2010.
President Obama drew on the Massachusetts law as a guide for his own legislation. So while many have welcomed his new reforms, a lot of people will still have problems affording medical care if the Massachusetts example is followed across the whole of the USA.
Oddly, Obama’s new laws were designed to try and prevent or reduce medical bankruptcies.
A spokesperson for Massachusetts study recently wrote: “Health costs in the state have risen sharply since reform was enacted. Even before the changes in health care laws, most medical bankruptcies in Massachusetts – as in other states – afflicted middle-class families with health insurance.
“High premium costs and gaps in coverage – co-payments, deductibles and uncovered services – often left insured families liable for substantial out-of-pocket costs. None of that changed.
“For example, under Massachusetts’ reform, the least expensive individual coverage available to a 56-year-old Bostonian carries a premium of $5,616, a deductible of $2,000, and covers only 80 percent of the next $15,000 in costs for covered services.”
This report will no doubt worry President Obama and his supporters who have tried to address the major problem of health reform. That said it could help initiate a proper dialogue over the best way to reform the US health care system. But with the Republicans avidly campaigning against the present reforms, this seems unlikely.
The Massachusetts example should also prove a warning for those in Britain who are seeking to demolish the NHS, and move towards a market approach of health care.