In 2006, [Massachusetts] lawmakers seeking to broaden health coverage made it illegal to be uninsured. It works like this: Employers have to offer you a health plan. If you are jobless or don’t like your employer’s plan, you must buy your own. If you don’t get one, you pay a stiff fine. This strategy—known as an employer and individual “mandate”—forms the backbone of the national health reform bills now making their way through Congress.

On paper, the experiment was a resounding success. According to an Urban Institute estimate, the number of uninsured residents quickly fell from 13 percent to 7 percent following the law’s passage.

And yet, something strange happened. Despite having health insurance, roughly one in 10 state residents still failed to fill prescriptions, ended up with unpaid medical bills, or skipped needed medical care for financial reasons. Hundreds of millions of dollars were spent to insure more Massachusetts citizens, but many people still weren’t getting necessary care. What happened?

Assume you’re looking to buy insurance. The state has a handy Web site where you can find the cheapest plan. For a young family of four, that plan costs roughly $9,500 per year, which doesn’t include a minimum annual deductible of $3,500 before many benefits kick in. (The state helps cover some of the premiums for those who make very little money, but many still have to pay the other fees.) And if anyone is hospitalized or needs a lot of specialized care, you also pay 20 percent of that bill. In this relatively cheap plan, the family can be liable for an extra $10,000 per year of medical costs. This sort of “high deductible” health plan is clearly structured to discourage medical care.

The article goes on to detail the effects of the program, parts of which may end up in Obama’s plan. The author’s conclusion?

The expensive Massachusetts plan is not well-designed to systematically improve anyone’s health. Instead, it’s a superficial effort to clear the uninsured from the books and then clumsily limit further costs by discouraging care.

  1. LibertyLover says:


    Willful failure to pay your taxes is a felony. If you know you have to pay your taxes, and you don’t, you are committing a felony.

    If you attempt to help someone not pay their taxes, you are guilty of Misprison.

    Granted, it is a fine line between “helping” someone avoid a tax and just “turning a blind eye.”

    However, as a self-proclaimed liberal, you should be encouraging your friends to pay their fair share.

  2. LibertyLover says:

    #180, Hey! That’s almost what King George said.

  3. Patrick says:

    # 180 sac said, “I see a lot more outrageous bumper stickers coming close to advocating armed rebellion. It seems the right wing nuts can’t handle democracy.”

    Which is just following the advice of the Founding Fathers in the event that the gov’t far exceeded its limits as found in the constitution.

  4. Mr. Fusion says:

    #176, Liberty Loser,

    If so, then you should report them if they aren’t paying their taxes. It’s the law to report any known law breakers.

    I am not responsible for my friends taxes. They are one of the most private things in our society. Why, I don’t really know.

    I can just picture you advising others on how they should pay their taxes.

    I think sac (#179) got it right. You are a hypocrite.

  5. LibertyLover says:

    #184, sac and fusion are the same person. Don’t deny it.

  6. Rick's Cafe says:

    Similar, but slightly different topic from our wonderful medical system up north. As I’ve said in the past, giving away existing checks and balances to a bureaucracy is a scary thought.
    Manitoba chiefs angered by delay in sanitizers
    Updated Tue. Jun. 23 2009 11:53 PM ET News Staff

    First Nations leaders in Manitoba have slammed federal health officials, after a report said Health Canada delayed shipping hand sanitizers to reserves because the products contained alcohol.
    It’s a lengthy article, but ya all get the gist of where it’s heading.

    I suspect the reason we don’t hear more of these stories is NOT because the stories don’t exist, but rather that it would be just as uncommon to subscribe to a Canadian newspaper for the sole purpose of gathering local information as it would for a local editor USA to include it in his paper.


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