Six Years Later And Some Are Still Confused About ‘Affordability’: The Massachusetts Edition

Felice Freyer has an excellent report in the Boston Globe about the affordability–and lack thereof–of healthcare in Massachusetts (boldface mine):

Nearly all Massachusetts adults have health insurance, but being insured is no guarantee patients can afford health care or even find someone to provide it, according to a survey released Wednesday.

Despite the state’s landmark health care overhaul, the report found, cost and access remain problems for a significant share of residents.

The 2006 law, which became the model for the federal Affordable Care Act, quickly succeeded at its main goal: ensuring coverage for nearly all residents. But the survey by the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts Foundation shows access remains a concern, especially for those with low incomes or health problems.

More than one-third of adults younger than 65 reported going without needed health care despite having insurance. Nearly half had trouble getting access to a health-care professional. One-fifth struggled to pay family medical bills or medical debts from previous years.

The foundation, which has conducted the survey almost every year since 2006, has repeatedly identified these problems. Their persistence echoes difficulties seen nationwide, as medical costs continue to rise and insurance policies require consumers to pay a greater share in deductibles and copays.

For long-time readers, this is nothing new, as I’ve discussed many times how the term affordable is misused when describing Obamacare–there is a difference between a good healthcare system and one that is simply better than. But this is part of the story that pisses me off (not Freyer, mind you):

Those out-of-pocket costs represent “a new health care agenda,” said Drew Altman, president and chief executive officer of the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonprofit focusing on national health issues. “It’s not just accessing care, but assuring that people can afford the care they now have access to.

Bullshit. This isn’t “a new health care agenda”, since those of us who were actually paying attention to what was happening in Massachusetts [not *cough* Paul Krugman *cough*] told you this would happen. Over six years ago:

…most humans, as opposed to MIT economists, would think, when it comes to your health, that, let’s say, one out of five adults not being afford health care isn’t all that, erm affordable….

For those wondering what “150-299% FPL” means, for a family of four, that’s between $31,812 – $63,612 per year. That’s right, households that are in the second fifth take it in the chops (MA has a high median household income). Even if you’re around the median (~$89,000), there’s still a good chance that your healthcare really isn’t affordable.

And the Boston Federal Reserve, the Dirty Fucking Hippies that they are, made the same point a few years later.

By the way, since 2010, nothing has really changed in terms of affordability:


There’s also CDC data that make a similar point.

This was not only predictable, but predicted. And it tastes like ashes in my mouth.

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