People in Massachusetts are living longer

(WWLP) – People in Massachusetts are living longer, and a new report suggests it has to do with our state’s universal health coverage.

Millions of Americans have gained health insurance since state marketplaces through the Affordable Care Act opened last fall. A recent Gallup poll revealed adults without coverage dropped from 18% down to just over 13%. Now new research, based on Massachusetts, suggests the law is going to help Americans live longer.

Since universal coverage went into effect in Massachusetts eight years ago mortality rates have improved, especially in lower income areas where access to insurance would have been limited. Some people told 22News that access is certainly important, but the rest is up to the patient.

“Get the proper nutrition, exercise, sleep. All these things factor in a healthy individual. It’s really up to them. If you’re given the opportunity to have health insurance you should use it,” said Judy Yaffe.

For example, back in 2008 the state of Oregon expanded Medicaid coverage. But even those who gained access did little to improve blood pressure and cholesterol. Massachusetts’ life expectancy may be increasing but not everyone sees the clear connection to universal coverage.

“When we think about laws or new processes we give them maybe a little too much credit. In this case yeah it’s made a difference but it’s part of a number of things,” said Jeff Hayden from Holyoke.

As the model for the Affordable Care Act, Massachusetts does boast the lowest uninsured rate in the country, at less than five percent. Massachusetts is also more affluent than other states, and has more doctors per capita.

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