Rethinking the Massachusetts Health Plan

We find evidence that Massachusetts’ individual mandate induces uninsured residents to conceal their true insurance status. Even setting that source of bias aside, we find the official estimate reported by the Commonwealth almost certainly overstates the law’s impact on insurance coverage, likely by 45 percent. In contrast to previous studies, we find evidence of substantial crowdout of private coverage among low-income adults and children. The law appears to have compressed self-reported health outcomes, without necessarily improving overall health. Our results suggest that more than 60 percent fewer young adults are relocating to Massachusetts as a result of the law. Finally, we conclude that leading estimates understate the law’s cost by at least one third, and likely more.

Full Cato study by Alan Yelowitz and Michael F. Cannon.

Comments (6)

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  1. Ken says:

    This is very interesting. First place I have seen anything like this.

  2. Joe S. says:

    This report is certainly a lot less glowing than the stuff Gruber puts out. But then Cato is not on the White House payroll.

  3. John R. Graham says:

    I received an e-mail query from a producer at ABC News. One of his questions was: “What impact might the already existing health care plan in Massachusetts have had on voters’ feelings on this issue, in your view — particularly considering that those living in Massachusetts may already be enjoying the benefits that a universal health care bill could provide?”

    So, the mainstream-media spin on the Brown victory is that the “universal” health care in Massachusetts is so successful that they just don’t want to share it with the rest of us, via ObamaCare. I guess it is the unavoidable logic of government-supplied medical services: There is a fixed sum available, and if we have it, we don’t want you to have it too!

  4. John Goodman says:

    There is a Wall Street Journal editorial on the study here:

  5. Neil H. says:

    Good editorial. Good study.

  6. Tom H. says:

    Very interesting. More people need to know about this.