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Massachusetts mandate

The Supreme Court upheld the individual mandate included in President Obama’s Affordable Care Act. It is possible to get insight into the way the program might work we can look at the very similar plan including an individual mandate was enacted six years ago in Massachusetts under then-governor Mitt Romney – a plan that will survive even if the Supreme Court strikes down the federal bill.

The 2006 Massachusetts law requires individuals and small businesses to have health insurance or pay fines. It expanded insurance plans for low-income workers and children, and set up a new way for individuals to shop for insurance online. Today, 98 percent of Massachusetts’s adults and almost 100 percent of kids are insured, and polls show overwhelming support for the law.

But problems persist. Primary care doctors remain in short supply, and health care costs continue to climb – an issue the entire nation is grappling with. Right now, the Massachusetts legislature is on the verge of passing “health reform, part two” to address the issue of high costs.

Need to Know medical correspondent Emily Senay, M.D. traveled to Massachusetts to see how health reform is working there. She talked to doctors, insurers, politicians, small business owners, and the people most affected by the state legislation – patients in search of affordable care.

Read the transcript.



  • Mpls Lee

    At age 49 I was a perfectly healthy male. Suddenly at age 50 I bumped my knee against the bed and developed a huge bruise. It healed, then 2 months later I bumped my arm and it also developed a huge bruise. I visited my Internist on a Friday, Sunday my Internist called me at home and the next Wed. I was at an appointment with an Oncologist.
    A question in this and other documentaries I’ve not heard answered, or asked, is how/should ‘universal’ coverage provide insurance for people at any age living with expensive engineered chemo medicines like Gleevec? After 10 years I’m still living, now at a cost of only $10,000 a MONTH – YES a month, (when I was first diagnosed Gleevec cost $13,000 a month). I am one of 4,000 Americans annually diagnosed with CLM Leukemia. This prescription is 85%+ effective with practically no side affects. (Insurance also needs to pay at least an additional $5,000 annually for my 3 visits to my Oncologist and related blood tests.)
    I hope future documentary interviewers ask people who are against universal insurance, would they be able to pay for such expensive coverage if left to their own resources? Isn’t the basic principal of insurance a pooling of risks?

  • Anonymous

    This first comment certainly makes you wonder about the critics interviewed in the show. If they make 80,000 a year, an incident like yours or an unexpected accident could easily be financially disasterous for them. I realized this years ago when young and working for a health insurance company. Do they realized how much a trip to the emergency room would cost them, or even a simple appendectomy?
    You can avoid required car insurance by not owning a car. But you can’t not own a body – you don’t have the freedom to choose to not have a body. So it seems like a basic necessity to have health coverage. You can always get a smaller roof over your head and save in other ways. I would worry about the couple that opted not take health insurance.

  • mary hershelman

    But those critics want their “freedoms”….they want the government to cut back on everything until of course it’s their lives at stake. Who is going to pick up their medical tab? Their argument is ‘why should we pay for those who don’t have?’ and in the end they who don’t have a lovely home on wooded acreage will be paying for them.