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Thursday, April 14, 2011

May yield substantial benefits: The fifth birthday of the Massachusetts universal health insurance law

In 1993, John Ayanian and a team of researchers studied the detection and treatment of breast cancer among women in New Jersey with and without health insurance. In their widely cited article in the New England Journal of Medicine about the harm to women's health of the lack of insurance, they concluded, "Comprehensive programs to improve access to early detection and optimal treatment may yield substantial benefits." Little did they know.

Fast forward to 2011, and the recent fifth birthday of the passage in Massachusetts of a state law requiring near-universal health insurance, Chapter 58 of the Acts of 2006. By my calculations, the new coverage for many thousands of women has likely led to the earlier detection and treatment of breast cancer, saving the lives of dozens of women each year, and more than 200 since the law went into effect. It would be interesting to see more precise calculations. Perhaps this could be an exercise for public health students.

Happy Birthday, and many more!

Read about the first birthday of the Massachusetts health reform law.

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