CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – A group of researchers at Cambridge Health Alliance (CHA), a Harvard-affiliated community healthcare system serving Cambridge, Somerville, and Boston’s metro-north communities, recently received a grant from the Center for Health Information and Analysis (CHIA) to research uninsurance and under-insurance within the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The JSI Training and Research Institute and the University of Massachusetts Medical School Center for Health Policy and Research also received funding awards, which total over $500,000 and exemplify the Center’s growing partnership with leading research and academic institutions and mark another step forward in the agency’s implementation of Massachusetts’ health care reforms.
Led by Danny McCormick, MD, MPH, a physician at the CHA Somerville Hospital Primary Care practice and an assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School (HMS), the Cambridge Health Alliance team will explore how health care cost-sharing impacts consumers’ health insurance decisions. “Between the Affordable Care Act and Chapter 224, Massachusetts residents will face new plan options, changes to their premiums, and changes in cost sharing,” said Dr. McCormick. “This partnership with CHIA will allow us to gauge consumer responses to these reforms. Our results will inform policymakers and decision-makers about how these changes impact our citizens.”
The team will survey over a thousand adults at emergency rooms across Massachusetts to better understand how well consumers understand their own health care plans, how consumers weigh benefits and costs in making their coverage decisions, and whether there are particular financial “tipping points” for obtaining coverage or accessing care that can lead to deferrals of health care purchases.
Co-investigators on Dr. McCormick’s Cambridge Health Alliance team are Leah Zallman, MD, MPH, staff physician and an instructor in medicine at HMS; Assaad Sayah, MD, Senior Vice President of Primary Care and Emergency Care and an instructor in medicine at HMS; and Rachel Nardin, MD, Chief of Neurology and an assistant professor of medicine at HMS.
Through the 2012 health care cost containment bill (Chapter 224), the Commonwealth tasked CHIA with establishing a program of study of the state’s uninsured and underinsured populations. These awards fund investigations that will identify the remaining Massachusetts uninsured, the barriers and choices they face in accessing coverage, and whether those Massachusetts residents that are insured are receiving affordable, quality care.
“CHIA’s purpose and mandate is to monitor the Massachusetts health care system and to provide reliable information and meaningful analysis for those seeking to improve health care quality, affordability, access, and outcomes,” Áron Boros, Executive Director of CHIA, stated. “The results of these studies will further that mission, increasing transparency in our health care system and empowering our policymakers to make the best data-driven decisions possible.”
The Center for Health Information and Analysis (CHIA) was established as an independent agency of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts by the 2012 Massachusetts health care reform law. The mission of CHIA is to monitor the health care system in Massachusetts and to provide reliable information and meaningful analysis for those seeking to improve health care quality, affordability, access and outcomes in the Commonwealth.
Cambridge Health Alliance is an integrated, award-winning community health system that provides high quality care in Cambridge, Somerville, and Boston’s metro-north communities. It includes three hospital campuses, a network of primary care and specialty practices, and the Cambridge Public Health Dept. CHA is a Harvard Medical School teaching affiliate and is also affiliated with Harvard School of Public Health, Harvard School of Dental Medicine, and Tufts University School of Medicine. For more information, visit www.challiance.org.