A new study designed to measure the degree of control Americans have over their own health care ranks Maryland 31st in the country.
The U.S. Index of Health Ownership was released Thursday by the Pacific Research Institute, a private research and policy analysis group. Study author John R. Graham, the institute’s director of health care studies, claims state regulation of health care decisions results in loss of individual control and a decrease in health care quality.
The study evaluated 24 aspects of government-run health care programs, regulations on private insurance, and medical malpractice policies in each state to determine which have greater control over residents’ health care and which allow for more individual choice.
Graham’s study ranks Alabama first for its light regulation of private insurance and reined-in state government programs. New York took the bottom spot for its tightly regulated and noncompetitive private insurance market and “out of control” government health care programs.
“The lack of health ownership is a real problem,” Graham said in a statement released with the study. “Almost half of the country’s health care spending is in the hands of the government, instead of patients themselves. The other half is governed by regulations inflicted upon doctors, health plans and patients.”
Vinny DeMarco, president of the Maryland Citizens’ Health Initiative, said Friday that the state’s recent expansion of Medicaid coverage for families and new insurance assistance for small businesses has improved health care in the state. The expansion, which took effect in July, is the state’s largest since 1993 and provides Medicaid coverage for an additional 100,000 people.
“The Medicaid expansion was good idea, and doing even more of that kind of expansion will help everyone in Maryland, and people will be healthier,” DeMarco said. “If the study disagrees with that, then I think it’s wrong.”
The state Department of Health and Mental Hygiene had no comment on the study, said spokeswoman Karen Black.
The costs of health regulations outweigh their benefits two to one, according to Duke University professor Christopher Conover, whose research is cited in the study. State regulation of health care contributes to 22,000 deaths each year, compared to the 18,000 who die from lack of health insurance, the study states.
In the study, Graham also writes in protest of “unlimited government spending, coordination, standard-setting, and general rule-making that restrict freedom of action in health care.
“I trust that (the study) will influence the climate of public opinion against those calls, and in favor of more individual health ownership,” he wrote.