Better collective American healthcare system through health reform – that was the primary aim when Obama administration set out to design PPACA. Seen as a way to improve overall health of the nation through improved healthcare, Obamacare is now getting a major confirmation from a Harvard study. The study states that Obamacare could save substantial lives in the coming years. Let’s take a closer look at the study, and what it means to say when it talks about saving lives.
The study is working on the metrics of Massachusetts post implementation of Romneycare. The study picked up the mortality rates prevailing in the state until 2005, before Governor Mitt Romney established Romneycare. As compared to the mortality rates in similar counties in the same duration, the mortality rates were 2.9 lower post the 2006 signing and implementation of Romneycare than rates before 2006. This decline in mortality rates was prevalent in the 20 -64 years age group, translating into 8 fewer deaths for every 100,000 citizens. By taking Romneycare as the model for Obamacare, Harvard researchers are extending the same claim to the implementation of PPACA in the country, and expect the law to save lives in the course of operation.
Delving deeper into the study, a drastic improvement in mortality rates for patients suffering from health problems that can be treated with improved access to healthcare services is obvious. For Massachusetts, mortality rates for people suffering from cardiovascular diseases, infections, and cancer showed significant reduction, of the order of 5 percent. The trend was stronger for areas where rates of uninsured were higher and incomes were lower.
The study makes a fresh attempt to prove the impending relationship between better health coverage and medical facility availability to better health, lower mortality rates and general wellbeing. With Obamacare bringing the same improvements in the healthcare system and lowering the number of uninsured, Benjamin Sommers, lead researcher of the study, believes that the same effect will be relayed to the entire nation under the implementation of the act. Although the study is not big on the causal factors behind this trend, it maintains that the close relationship between Romneycare and Obamacare will be exhibited on the reduction in mortality rates as well because the two acts are conceptually similar, only differing in the scale of application. While Romneycare was limited to Massachusetts, Obamacare is a national phenomenon and its implications should be nationwide.
Since Obamacare is going to have a significant effect on the number of uninsured in America – hoping to reduce the number by 12 million by 2014 end, and by 26 million by 2018 beginning – the impact on mortality rates should be higher. However, the connection between better healthcare services & access to medical coverage and improved health & longer life has been strongly contested. According to 2002 Institute of Medicine research, 18,000 people died due to lack of health insurance in 2000. A similar study at Urban Institute reported in 2006 that 22,000 deaths each year owe to poor health insurance and lack of coverage. On the other hand, a 2009 study reveals no connection between health coverage and lower mortality, especially when subtle population health factors are considered. Similar debate has gone in Medicaid circles, with a 2012 report showing that people under Medicaid coverage have better health as compared to those not on Medicaid, which was subsequently contradicted by a separate 2013 study that showed no improvements in blood pressure and cholesterol for people on Medicaid as compared to people without Medicaid coverage.
Naturally, the connection between health coverage and mortality rates, if any, is pretty weak, and researchers have not been able to converge to a single point. Irrelevant of these studies, Obamacare is definitely turning out to be a mammoth success for the people of America, and if not life expectancy directly, it is definitely improving quality of healthcare for people throughout the nation.