Researchers at the Urban Institute conducted a survey of working age adults in Massachusetts to look at the impact of the state’s health reform law as of the fall of 2008. (Health Affairs Summary) The notable findings were that employers continued to offer coverage, with no noticeable decrease in quality of benefits; that eligibility standards did not appear to be tightening and that for workers at large employers, their share of the premium cost was not increasing. Employees did not report seeking less care because of higher costs. For workers in small firms, however, their share of premium costs and out-of-pocket spending did increase.
The survey might be made more accurate and more useful if the researchers talked with the employers and payers, as well as employees. Employers could give precise information about the nature of the coverage, its costs and the amounts borne by employees. Also interesting, in light of the recent kerfuffle over the AHIP report on what the Senate Finance Committee bill would do to health insurance premiums, is the fact that between 2006 and 2008, employer-related health premiums rose by 9% for individuals and 12% for families in Massachusetts, compared to 6% and 8% for the country. Just another warning that every time access is expanded, costs go up.