Mortality Drop Seen to Follow ’06 Health Law

Mortality Drop Seen to Follow ’06 Health Law

In this April 12, 2006, file photo Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, reacts at Faneuil Hall in Boston after signing into law his landmark health care bill, designed to guarantee health insurance to virtually all Massachusetts residents. The law provided a blueprint for President Barack Obama's health care law, which Romney has vowed to dismantle. Ironically the "Romneycare" vs. "Obamacare" debate has given Romney with his most succinct retort, that issues of health care should be left to the states, not the federal government. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola, File)
In this April 12, 2006, file photo Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, reacts at Faneuil Hall in Boston after signing into law his landmark health care bill, designed to guarantee health insurance to virtually all Massachusetts residents. The law provided a blueprint for President Barack Obama’s health care law, which Romney has vowed to dismantle. Ironically the “Romneycare” vs. “Obamacare” debate has given Romney with his most succinct retort, that issues of health care should be left to the states, not the federal government. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola, File)

(New York Times) BOSTON — The death rate in Massachusetts dropped significantly after it adopted mandatory health care coverage in 2006, a study released Monday found, offering evidence that the country’s first experiment with universal coverage — and the model for crucial parts of President Obama’s health care law — has saved lives, health economists say.

The study tallied deaths in Massachusetts from 2001 to 2010 and found that the mortality rate — the number of deaths per 100,000 people — fell by about 3 percent in the four years after the law went into effect. The decline was steepest in counties with the highest proportions of poor and previously uninsured people. In contrast, the mortality rate in a control group of counties similar to Massachusetts in other states was largely unchanged.

A national 3 percent decline in mortality among adults under 65 would mean about 17,000 fewer deaths a year.

“It’s big,” said Samuel Preston, a demographer at the University of Pennsylvania and an authority on life expectancy. Professor Preston, who was not involved in the study, called the study “careful and thoughtful,” and said it added to a growing body of evidence that people with health insurance could reap the ultimate benefit — longer life.

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