In what would amount to the country’s first universal coverage plan, the Massachusetts Legislature approved a bill that will require all its residents to buy health insurace or face legal penalties.
How did they finally eke out a winning strategy for such a long-sought goal? The program is modeled on the state’s policy on auto insurance.
BOSTON, April 4—The Massachusetts legislature approved a bill Tuesday that would require all residents to purchase health insurance or face legal penalties, which would make this the first state to tackle the problem of incomplete medical coverage by treating patients the same way it does cars.
Gov. Mitt Romney (R) supports the proposal, which would require all uninsured adults in the state to purchase some kind of insurance policy by July 1, 2007, or face a fine. Their choices would be expanded to include a range of new and inexpensive policies—ranging from about $250 per month to nearly free—from private insurers subsidized by the state.
Romney said the bill, modeled on the state’s policy of requiring auto insurance, is intended to end an era in which 550,000 people go without insurance and their hospital and doctor visits are paid for in part with public funds.