Massachusetts insurance mandate lowers death rate

Since “Romneycare” was phased in, mortality fell by 2.9 percent

After 2006, when Massachusetts put in place a policy aimed at universal health insurance, mortality rates among those affected by the law fell by 2.9 percent, researchers report in the May 6 Annals of Internal Medicine.

The law, enacted when Mitt Romney was governor, is widely seen as a model for the national Affordable Care Act, sometimes called Obamacare. The Massachusetts law mandated coverage and offered subsidized private insurance and expanded Medicaid coverage. 

To gauge the law’s effect, researchers compared mortality rates among people ages 20 to 64 from 2007 to 2010 with the years preceding the law’s enactment, 2001 to 2005. The 2.9 percent decline was the average, with the greatest effect seen in previously uninsured people. The researchers calculated that Romneycare yielded one fewer death for every additional 830 adults covered. Greater coverage led to more clinic visits resulting in better overall health, the authors suggest.

Editor’s Note: This article was updated May 12, 2014, to clarify that the restricted age range was set by the study, not the Massachusetts law.

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