Five years ago, Massachusetts adopted its “universal health care” plan, which served as the template for President Obama’s subsequent national health care legislation. However, Massachusetts’ problems of rising health costs and worsening access foreshadow similar problems for the rest of America — as well as how to avoid them.
The Massachusetts Medical Society recently reported that the state law has resulted in “longer patient wait times [and] continued difficult access to primary care physicians.” The average wait time in Massachusetts to see an internal medicine physician is now 48 days — double the national average. Over half of primary care practices are no longer accepting new patients. Fewer physicians are accepting the state-run Commonwealth Care and Commonwealth Choice insurance plans. So although Massachusetts politicians frequently boast that they have increased “coverage,” many patients cannot find doctors to provide them with actual medical care.
Meanwhile health costs continue to skyrocket out of control, both for the state government and for privately insured patients. In a recent Forbes article, Sally Pipes notes that over the next 10 years, the plan will cost the state government $2 billion more than predicted. Similarly, prior to the new law insurance prices in Massachusetts increased at a rate 3.7% slower than the national average; after the “reform,” they’re increasing 5.8% faster.
Fortunately, it’s not too late for the rest of America to learn from Massachusetts. Instead of adopting that failed system at the national level, Americans should demand that Congress “defund” and repeal ObamaCare — and adopt genuine free-market health care reforms like those advocated by Tea Party physician-activist Dr. Milton Wolfand Whole Foods CEO John Mackey. Such reforms include fixing the tax code to put employer-provided health insurance and individually-owned health insurance on a level playing field, repealing costly mandates specifying which benefits insurers must offer, allowing individuals to purchase health insurance across state lines, and eliminating monopolistic medical licensing requirements that prevent doctors from practicing across state lines. These reforms would lower costs and improve access to quality medical care, while respecting the individual rights of patients, doctors, and insurers.
The ongoing failure of the “universal health care” plan in Massachusetts serves as a clear warning to the rest of America. The only question is whether we’ll heed it.