Maine, Hawaii, and Massachusetts have attempted to reform their state health insurance regulations with troubling results. Democrats in Congress are now seeking to expand these ideas nationwide. The problem is that these “reforms” resulted in lost jobs, higher health care costs, and reduced access to care at the state-level. Here are the results:
- Hawaii: In 1973, Hawaii enacted a mandate that required employers to provide health insurance to all employees working more than 20 hours per week. Instead of expanding health care coverage in Hawaii, the mandate resulted in employers hiring more part-time workers who work less than 20 hours a week. The mandate also pushed employers to have their employees work longer hours instead of hiring new employees.
- Maine: In 1993, Maine began to institute community rating, guaranteed issue and a government-run health plan, just as House Democrats are seeking to do. As a result of these “reforms,” all but one insurer fled the state, driving up costs and eliminating choice. To provide Maine residents with a “choice,” the state then created a government-run plan, much like the one House Democrats are proposing. The cost of the government-run plan has far exceeded projections and enrollment in the government plan was closed to low-income residents in September 2007 – just four years after it was created. Currently, only 9,630 individuals are enrolled, and of those nearly two-thirds already had insurance. Maine’s government-run plan is on the verge of bankruptcy and covers fewer than three percent of the residents it was designed to.
- Massachusetts: In 2006, Massachusetts instituted an individual mandate, requiring all residents to purchase health insurance, to go along with its community rating and guaranteed issue requirements. As a result, the state’s overall costs on health programs have increased 42 percent since 2006. Massachusetts now spends 33 percent more per person on health care than the national average. Worse yet, these reforms did nothing to ensure access to care. A recent study by Merritt Hawkins found that, among the most populated cities, Boston had the longest wait times to see a physician (49.6 days), almost double those of the next closest city Philadelphia (27 days). Massachusetts residents are now required to purchase something they can’t use, because they can’t find a doctor who will treat them in a timely manner.