The annual Massachusetts Medical Society survey of a few thousand of its members and periodic survey of a few hundred of its patients was released August 8. It's interesting research because it tracks some important issues consistently over as many as eight or nine years1, bridging pre and post RomneyCare, which was fully implemented four years ago.
Some of the bad-news patient- and doctor-office-reported findings -- none of which are statistically significant on a time-series basis -- include:
- Wait time to see a family-medicine physician:
- 45 days. up from 34 days before RomneyCare
- (waits to see an internist went up and down like a yo-yo--see illustration
- (only wait times for pediatricians were flat--not illustrated)
- Percentage of Massachussets adults intentionally waiting for medical care:
- 19%, up from 17%-18% in 2005-2006 before RomneyCare implementation
- Percentage of Massachussets adults that saw a primary care physician (PCP) reporting a "problematic" wait time:
- 9%, up from 8% in almost all years before RomneyCare (and see data on PCP visits below)
- Percentage of Massachussets adults NOT likely to use health care quality information now easily available from the state of Massachusetts about doctors and other providers :
- 44%, up from 43% before RomneyCare implementation
Perhaps on the plus side but -- as with the bad news above -- not statistically significant from a time-series point of view:
- Percentage of Massachussets adults seeing a primary care physician was up over the period.
- But was that because an insurance company forced them to see a PCP instead of a specialist or because they wanted to?
- And combined with problematic wait times for those that saw a PCP (see above) this probably does not belong on the plus side of the ledger
- Percentage of Massachussets adults reporting a problem getting health care was down (so maybe they were seeing a primary care physician for the right reason)
So -- statistically -- on the key issues, there hasn't been any change in Massachusetts in almost a decade. That actually tells you all you need to know about RomneyCare. RomneyCare didn't make the least bit a difference on these metrics which reflect the most important health insurance issues Massachusetts residents care about.
But not surprisingly patients also reported to the Massachusetts Medical Society that affordablity and related issues were a big problem.
Really no news about RomneyCare there either.
-- Dennis Byron
1 The consistency of the questions and methodologies over the time period make the research better than most of the state of Massachusetts' own research. The state changed research-house and methodological horses multiple times because it couldn't get the positive answers it wanted. Finally Governor Deval Patrick stopped releasing any data at all because even the data he tried to rig said bad things about Massachusetts health care reform.