The answer to the article titled "How Successful Is Massachusetts
Insurance Reform Effort?" in the June 20 issue is this: not a whole heck
of a lot.
The universal health care coverage plan in that state has failed in two
important aspects. First, it did not result in universal coverage. There is
still a significant number of "uninsured," approximately 300,000
Second, it is well over budget and will continue to cost more than
originally projected. The low-cost or no-cost public insurance option called
Commonwealth Care was originally estimated to cost Massachusetts $472 million
in 2007. It ended up costing $625 million. According to the May 21 Wall
Street Journal, the 2009 cost estimate is $869 million, and this figure
is already considered too low.
Supposedly, one of the driving forces for universal coverage was to reduce
the cost of health care. Just as with Medicare and Medicaid, which also
promised reduced costs at their start, the opposite has occurred. Taxpayers in
other states such as California and Wisconsin were lucky enough that their
respective legislatures "failed" in their attempt to provide
universal health care coverage. It is classic bureaucratic upside-down
reasoning to call this costly entitlement program a success.
Interestingly, proponents of a single-payer health care system are also
critical of the Massachusetts program, albeit for the wrong reasons. The
former editor-in-chief of the New England Journal of Medicine, Marcia
Angell, M.D., titled her critique in the April 21 American Prospect,"
Health Reform You Shouldn't Believe In." Angell blames private
industry for increased costs: "There's a fundamental illogic to trying
to contain costs in a market-based system." Dr. Angell needs education
in basic principles and the history of economics. In a free-market
environment, competitive forces drive down consumer costs, increase
productivity, and create innovation.
The true lesson to be learned from the Massachusetts program is that
government regulations and manipulations corrupt and corrode free markets with
resultant increased costs and numerous inefficiencies. The key to affordable
health care for as many Americans as possible is to keep government intrusions
very limited. Unfortunately, Massachusetts is going in the wrong direction.
Too bad for the state's residents, their left-wing ideologues will only
continue the shift to more government control.