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A new study by health economists of the Massachusetts health care reform has potential good news for Obamacare and the potential for the law to save lives. The Massachusetts law, the model used for Obamacare, passed in 2006 and took effect in 2007, and this study tracks mortality in the state in the five years before and after the law. The results: in the four years after the law went into effect, a 3 percent decline in mortality.
The decline was steepest in counties with the highest proportions of poor and previously uninsured people. In contrast, the mortality rate in a control group of counties similar to Massachusetts in other states was largely unchanged.

A national 3 percent decline in mortality among adults under 65 would mean about 17,000 fewer deaths a year.

“It’s big,” said Samuel Preston, a demographer at the University of Pennsylvania and an authority on life expectancy. Professor Preston, who was not involved in the study, called the study “careful and thoughtful,” and said it added to a growing body of evidence that people with health insurance could reap the ultimate benefit — longer life.

The researchers looked specifically at causes of mortality "amenable to health care." Those are diseases like cancers, heart disease, and other chronic serious health concerns that can be treated and that people can survive with regular medical care. Where they got it—Massachusetts—there was a 3 percent lower mortality rate than where they didn't get it.

There are a bunch of caveats that go with this, primarily that Massachusetts has a more white and more affluent population in general than most states. The control group the researchers used were people in 513 counties in 46 other states that matched pre-reform Massachusetts in terms of demography, income, and rate of insurance. But that makes for a huge data set—4 million in Massachusetts and 44 million in the control group, a large enough population to make the findings statistically significant. It was also a large enough group to get detailed enough information to look for other factors beyond health insurance. The authors didn't find any other factors that could account for this mortality drop.

Massachusetts embraced this reform, with stakeholders working hard to make it a success. In that way, it also won't be representative of the national population where some states are doing the minimum to expand access to health insurance through Obamacare. But with all those caveats, this is a big study with very good results. And those results suggest that Obamacare is going to save lives.

Originally posted to Joan McCarter on Tue May 06, 2014 at 08:41 AM PDT.

Also republished by Massachusetts Kosmopolitans, Good News, Obamacare Saves Lives, and Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (17+ / 0-)

    "The NSA’s capability at any time could be turned around on the American people, and no American would have any privacy left, such is the capability to monitor everything. [...] There would be no place to hide."--Frank Church

    by Joan McCarter on Tue May 06, 2014 at 08:41:33 AM PDT

  •  the wingers are already (9+ / 0-)

    complaining the cost was too high, almost four million dollars per person who lived.  Of course, I am sure they didn't factor in savings over treating uninsured generally and paying for it entriely out of puclib funds, or the savings in working hours/productivity of people who's diseases were stopped from threatening to disable them, etc.

    And then the underlying assumption that poor people aren't worth four million dollars a piece.  But we all know a rich man would be.

    •  They never factor (7+ / 0-)

      in the savings to the system as a whole for providing coverage, not to mention the economic benefits. Every study of Medicaid expansion shows that states will save a ton, and create new jobs, with expansion.

      They're all sociopaths. I don't have any other explanation.

      "The NSA’s capability at any time could be turned around on the American people, and no American would have any privacy left, such is the capability to monitor everything. [...] There would be no place to hide."--Frank Church

      by Joan McCarter on Tue May 06, 2014 at 09:12:08 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  But they're fine spending trillions to kill (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      a2nite, FloridaSNMOM, sajiocity, jfromga, hbk

      thousands in unnecessary wars across the globe. Go figure.

      The party of death and torture. Sadistic bastards.

      A man does as he is when he can do what he wants

      by BobBlueMass on Tue May 06, 2014 at 09:25:07 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  And I bet this didn't even include the (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      jfromga

      SS payouts these people will now get:

      the cost was too high, almost four million dollars per person who lived.
      yikes!!

      Seriously, if everybody just started smoking, SS would be solvent for something a gazillion years into the future, if with the cuts the GOP is itching to have.

  •  And the effect will grow (12+ / 0-)

    This is a stunning result so soon after implementation.  A nearly immediate drop in mortality? Wowsa.

    My theory is that the most acutely ill of the uninsured are driving this. Finally getting treated for their heart disease, diabetes, and other chronic illnesses. Other uninsured people now getting better screening, early diagnosis, and treatment, and better preventive care will continue to drive mortality rates downward.

    Moving people from sporadic treatment in emergency departments when their illness gets acute to ongoing treatment in physician offices.

    Who woulda thought that healthcare would actually make people healthier?

    A man does as he is when he can do what he wants

    by BobBlueMass on Tue May 06, 2014 at 09:47:37 AM PDT

    •  It is not so immediate (0+ / 0-)

      Massachusetts implemented Romenycare (which is the basis for this study and the same as Obamacare) years ago and the study is based on the first five years of Romneycare.

      •  Sorta (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Justanothernyer, hbk

        It compares the years immediately post-implementation to the years immediately pre-implementation.

        Changes in mortality rates for adults in Massachusetts counties from 2001 to 2005 (prereform) and 2007 to 2010 (postreform) were compared with changes in a propensity score–defined control group of counties in other states.
        The law passed in 2006 (I was there) and got up and going in 2007. The portions of the study I read do not mention year-by-year comparisons, just the aggregate of the study period. So, yeah, we do not necessarily know if any significant decrease occurred in 2007 or 2008.

        We had a smoother implementation. No wingnuts fighting the law, either. It also had/has a higher portion of the population covered (95%+?) than the ACA.

        No matter what this is great.

        A man does as he is when he can do what he wants

        by BobBlueMass on Tue May 06, 2014 at 12:40:31 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  la la la la!!! can't hear youuuu!!! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JayBat
    A new study by health economists of the Massachusetts health care reform has potential good news for Obamacare and the potential for the law to save lives....

    "When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in a flag and carrying a cross." Sinclair Lewis, 1935 --Talk of foresight--

    by tuma on Tue May 06, 2014 at 10:37:11 AM PDT

  •  when GOP/FOX says Benghazi (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    indres

    let's talk about the republican death panels created by governors who refused to expand medicaid

    www.tapestryofbronze.com

    by chloris creator on Tue May 06, 2014 at 10:44:37 AM PDT

  •  Irony (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sajiocity

    Many at this site don't quite get right wing theory.  Saving the lives of "them" increases taxes to pay for non producers.  They believe in a god of money, not of charity.   I am not being facetious.

    Actions speak louder than petitions.

    by melvynny on Tue May 06, 2014 at 10:45:19 AM PDT

  •  The #1 Reason the GOP opposes the ACA (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    indres, hbk
    the potential for the law to save lives.
    This is NOT part of the GOP plan for America.

    Legal means "good".
    [41984 | Feb 4, 2005]

    by xxdr zombiexx on Tue May 06, 2014 at 11:06:29 AM PDT

  •  But the ACA continues to poll (0+ / 0-)

    negativly Why. I thought by this time, the numbers would improve and they are not!

    a long habit of not thinking a thing WRONG, gives it a superficial appearance of being RIGHT, and raises at first a formidable outcry in defense of custom.

    by Jamesleo on Tue May 06, 2014 at 11:23:41 AM PDT

    •  Ask people what the law does and (0+ / 0-)

      you'll get your answer. To keep it simple, White America views the ACA as a welfare program that hollows out Medicare in order to pay for healthcare for poor(read: black) people. So even though they, correctly, think it helps the poor, they, incorrectly, think they're getting screwed in return. It goes without saying that the cancelled plans news frenzy in Oct didn't help.

      The truth is the consumer protections and the exchanges are primarily middle-class benefits, with Mediciaid as the vehicle for the poor. As Paul Krugman has said, the reason why almost every single anti-ACA sob story has fallen apart is cause the losers in this law are actually not sympathetic: they are those making more than $250,000 & healthy individuals (primarily male) who are in the upper middle class.

      We've all seen the gazillions of polls and on the components of the ACA and, other than the mandate, they all have 60% support. And for our conservative friends, that includes the Medicare surtax on those making more than $250,000.

      •  Simply put I (0+ / 0-)

        want to see a poll that says 50.1% Americans view the ACA favorably  Until that time, we have problems.
         

        a long habit of not thinking a thing WRONG, gives it a superficial appearance of being RIGHT, and raises at first a formidable outcry in defense of custom.

        by Jamesleo on Tue May 06, 2014 at 05:55:33 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Agreed..but it will take time (0+ / 0-)

          And 2014 is gonna be another election with the ACA being more bad than good, unfortunately We're just not there yet cause the opposition over the past 4 years has built up impressive infrastructure with a big network of disinformation backed up by huge money and a cable news channel.

          That being said, the combination of the benefits reaching more people and the eventual depoliticization that'll come with the departure of President Obama means we'll eventually get there.

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