A lot of Obamacare supporters point to Massachusetts as proof that signing up the uninsured is a big, but doable task. Here, in 2013, that’s a reasonable conclusion.
But back in 2007 and 2008 things were a lot messier, and some advocates for universal coverage were worried.
1) It looked like the state had, by a lot, underestimated the number of people who would be eligible for free and subsidized coverage. (In 2006, the estimate was 140,000. By April 2008, the estimate rose to 225,000, based on early sign-ups. Enrollment plateaued at 177,000 in 2009.)
2) A dramatic increase in first enrollment put a strain on doctors and health care services at every level.
3) Patients, many of whom had not had insurance for years, had a lot of problems they hadn’t taken care of and were seeking more tests, surgery and other treatment that drove up costs.
4) State budget watchers started to panic. The governor’s office kept going back to the Legislature to ask for more money and a few top lawmakers began to question whether the state could afford to fund the coverage law.
5) Employers saw an increase in workers who, to avoid the individual mandate penalty, signed up for their employer’s coverage, which increased employers’ outlays for health insurance.
Of course we don’t know if people who’ve gone without insurance around the country will behave like Massachusetts residents. Continue reading