Medical Bankruptcy in Massachusetts: Has Health Reform Made a Difference?
ABSTRACT Massachusetts' recent health reform has decreased the number of uninsured, but no study has examined medical bankruptcy rates before and after the reform was implemented.
In 2009, we surveyed 199 Massachusetts bankruptcy filers regarding medical antecedents of their financial collapse using the same questions as in a 2007 survey of 2314 debtors nationwide, including 44 in Massachusetts. We designated bankruptcies as "medical" based on debtors' stated reasons for filing, income loss due to illness, and the magnitude of their medical debts.
In 2009, illness and medical bills contributed to 52.9% of Massachusetts bankruptcies, versus 59.3% of the bankruptcies in the state in 2007 (P=.44) and 62.1% nationally in 2007 (P<.02). Between 2007 and 2009, total bankruptcy filings in Massachusetts increased 51%, an increase that was somewhat less than the national norm. (The Massachusetts increase was lower than in 54 of the 93 other bankruptcy districts.) Overall, the total number of medical bankruptcies in Massachusetts increased by more than one third during that period. In 2009, 89% of debtors and all their dependents had health insurance at the time of filing, whereas one quarter of bankrupt families had experienced a recent lapse in coverage.
Massachusetts' health reform has not decreased the number of medical bankruptcies, although the medical bankruptcy rate in the state was lower than the national rate both before and after the reform.
05/2014; 4(2):208-220. DOI:10.1080/21598282.2014.906798
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ABSTRACT: The Massachusetts health care reform was expected to reduce the financial burden of medical care, but literature exploring this effect is limited. In this study, we use hospital financial information and a panel data difference-in-difference model to assess the impact of the Massachusetts health care reform on unpaid medical bills. We find that the reform reduced the financial burden for patients, reflected by a 26percent decrease in hospital bad debt. The effect was more pronounced among safety-net hospitals, indicating a larger benefit for the most vulnerable population.Inquiry: a journal of medical care organization, provision and financing 08/2013; 50(3):165-176. DOI:10.1177/0046958013516580 · 0.56 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: With the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), access to insurance and coverage of preventive care services has been expanded. By removing the barrier of shared costs for preventive care, it is expected that an increase in utilization of preventive care services will reduce the cost of chronic diseases. Early detection and treatment is anticipated to be less costly than treatment at full onset of chronic conditions. One concern of early detection of disease is the cost to treat. In reality, the confluence of early detection may result in greater overall expenditures. Even with improved access to preventive care benefits, cost-sharing of other health services remains a major component of insurance plans. In order to treat identified conditions or diseases, cost-sharing comes into play. With the greater adoption of cost-sharing insurance plans, expenditures on the part of enrollee are anticipated to rise. Once the healthcare recipients realize the implication of early identification and resultant treatment costs, enrollment in preventive care may decline. Healthcare legislation and regulation should consider the full spectrum of care and the microeconomic costs associated with preventive treatment. Although the system at large may not realize the immediate impact, behavioral shifts on the part of healthcare consumers may alter healthcare. Rather than the current status quo of treating presenting conditions, preventive treatment is largely anticipated to require more resources and may impact the consumer's financial capacity. This report will explore how these two concepts are co-dependent, and highlight the need for continued reform.International Journal of Health Policy and Management (IJHPM) 08/2014; 3(3):145-8. DOI:10.15171/ijhpm.2014.76