High Deductible Health Plans
There really is only one place within our country's healthcare system that will treat all people, despite their health insurance status – that's hospital emergency rooms. Under federal law an Emergency Room is required to give any person that shows up there treatments at least to stabilize their condition, no matter if they have or do not have medical insurance. With the number of the uninsured in this country at 47 million and growing, it has been feared that more and more people will be using ER's for non-emergency treatments, and stress an already over-burdened system. A recent study released in the Journal of the American Medical Association, and conducted by the Harvard School of Medicine, indicated that the recently legislated high-deductible health plans initiated as part of Massachusetts's massive healthcare reforms are cutting down on non-emergency ER usage. Which is good news for advocates of the "Massachusetts Experiment".
The study found that those with the High-Deductible plans sought Emergency Room treatment for non-emergency care 10% less then those with traditional health insurance. The study found that owners of the high deductible private insurance policies stayed home rather then go to Emergency Rooms for the treatment of things like cold and flu symptoms, nausea and headaches. The Harvard researchers followed patients for one year after they switched form higher premium plans with lower deductibles. Dr. Frank Wharam, one of the authors of the Study said the results seemed to indicate that the high deductible plans are working the way legislators had hoped, that patients went to the emergency room less frequently for non-emergency conditions. However the researchers were also quick to point out that more research was needed to make sure that the patients with the high deductible insurance plans were not neglecting routine care, because of the high costs of treatment.
Governor Deval Patrick is excited about the release of the Study. It indicates his administration is on the right track with healthcare reforms that have been designed to make affordable health insurance accessible to all Massachusetts residents. Patrick recently released details of several subsidized plans that will be available to residents as early as June that will cost no more than $175.00 a month and carry a maximum deductible of $2000.00.