Why Massachusetts can afford universal health insurance

Health insurance in Massachusetts is more expensive than anywhere else in the country and yet the state is able to afford universal coverage. How can that be? An important part of the explanation is that the state values education, and a well educated population yields a highly skilled labor force with high incomes. Those high incomes can support health insurance coverage.

While the US as a whole is a laggard in education —scoring 25th among 34 countries in math, for example– Massachusetts students are world class. In science, Massachusetts is right up there with Singapore, and it does well in math, too where our students rank right below Japan and above Russia. This bodes well for future Massachusetts performance in technology and science fields, which are likely to be major drivers of the economy in the next generation (unless finance takes over everything). There’s no international comparison that I’m aware of for creativity, but I’m willing to bet Massachusetts would come out well there, too.

Achieving meaningful health care reform and universal coverage require more than just passing health care laws. Enlightened policy in multiple fields –especially education– is a critical enabler.

December 12, 2012

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