Deaths decline after Massachusetts’ health care reform

Main Point:

Deaths declined significantly in Massachusetts four years after comprehensive health care reform, according to an article being published in Annals of Internal Medicine.

Published in:

Annals of Internal Medicine

Study Further:

In 2006, Massachusetts enacted a health care law that expanded Medicaid, offered subsidized private insurance, and created an individual mandate. As the model for the Affordable Care Act, effects of the Massachusetts’ health care overhaul have important policy implications.

Researchers wanted to find out if expanded insurance coverage affected mortality rates in the state. Mortality rates before and after reform were compared to demographically similar counties in other states without such reform.

The researchers found that deaths among its nonelderly residents decreased by 2.9 percent compared to the control group. The researchers estimate that Massachusetts’ health reform law prevented 320 deaths per year, which equals about one life saved for each 830 persons gaining insurance. The decline in mortality was concentrated among causes of death most likely to be preventable or treatable with timely health care, such as infections, cancer, and cardiovascular disease. Counties with lower median incomes and higher percentage of uninsured adults before the law was passed saw the largest health benefits and mortality benefits were nearly twice as large for minorities as it was for whites.

Reference:

B.D. Sommers, S.K. Long, and K. Baicker. Changes in Mortality After Massachusetts Health Care Reform: A Quasi-experimental Study. Annals of Internal Medicine, 160 (9), 585-593, http://www.annals.org/article.aspx?doi=10.7326/M13-2275

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