At least one form of health reform is getting high marks from consumers.
Massachusetts residents say they’re satisfied with their health care under the state’s 2006 reform law, though costs and appointment wait times remain an issue, according to a new poll.
The majority (84 percent) expressed satisfaction with their health care, saying they have good access to care and good quality, according to the Massachusetts Medical Society, a statewide physician group that conducted the poll.
The poll sheds light on how Massachusetts residents have adjusted to the state’s reform since it became law in 2006.
The law was the brainchild of then-Gov. Mitt Romney. President Obama said he used the law as a template for his Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, though Romney insisted there were differences between the two, and said during his presidential campaign that he would repeal Obamacare if elected.
While satisfaction is high under Massachusetts’ health reform law, PPACA has struggled to win over the public. Though it has yet to be fully implemented, approval of the law is at its lowest since its passage in 2010.
Massachusetts Medical Society’s survey suggested that state’s law also is far from perfect.
Massachusetts Medical Society President Ronald Dunlap said that though the survey has a lot of good news for patients and doctors, it hints at “warning signs.”
The percentage of residents reporting a wait of a month or more to see their primary care physicians is at its highest level in the history of the survey, increasing from 21 percent in 2012 to 28 percent in 2013.
For serious medical problems, 86 percent said the amount of time they needed to wait was not a problem, with the majority of residents (62 percent) reporting that they waited less than two weeks to get an appointment for a serious problem.
Nearly 80 percent said cost is the most important health care issue facing Massachusetts compared with access to care and quality of care. Another 65 percent said their health care costs are more expensive than last year.
Additionally, emergency room visits were up 6 percent from last year. ER visits were more frequent among people age 40 and younger compared with the elderly.
Furthermore, residents also indicated that they have a limited understanding of new insurance options and care models such as tiered health plans and accountable care organizations.
“As emergency department use has a considerable impact on costs, and as new insurance plans and models of care become more prevalent, these areas call for more attention and more patient education,” Dunlap said.
Still, Dunlap noted, it's important to note that "reform has not caused major disruption in the delivery of care as perceived by the patients."
Under Massachusetts' law, millions of uninsured residents got health coverage. The Bay State now has the lowest uninsured rate in the country.