BOSTON, April 14 (UPI) -- Massachusetts residents who participate in the state's healthcare program are seeing their insurance premiums going down by 5 percent, officials say.
While healthcare insurance premiums have gone up in other states, those participating in the state's Health Connector Commonwealth Care program are enjoying a second year of reduced premium payments courtesy of the healthcare reform act signed into law by then Gov. Mitt Romney, Forbes.com reported.
President Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act was patterned under Romney's program in Massachusetts and designed to lower the amount of "free riders," people who don't buy or can't afford healthcare insurance but
cannot by law, be turned away at a hospital emergency room if they have a life-threatening illness, by mandating the purchase of healthcare insurance.
Currently, Massachusetts has the highest level of healthcare coverage in the country with more than 98 percent of its residents having healthcare insurance, but ranking as the 48th lowest state in the nation in healthcare expenditures.
The combined saving of last year and this year will save the state approximately $91 million with no benefit reductions or member co-pay increases, the report said.
However, it took longer -- up seven days from last year -- for patients to see a primary care physician for non-urgent care, while waiting for an internist improved by five days from last year, the report said. There was a primary care U.S. physician shortage before the Massachusetts law was approved in every state spurred by the Balanced Budget Act of 1997 that restricted the number of internships and residencies in U.S. hospitals.