Massachusetts Insurance Impoves Preventive Health

Armen Hareyan's picture
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New Massachusetts health insurance plan now covers more than half of those who were uninsured last year. Also more people have received preventative care since the time mandatory health insurance was launched.

Massachusetts enrolled mandatory health insurance in the fall of 2006 and required all residents to obtain coverage starting from January 2007. Some 86000 residents who did not fulfill the requirement are required to pay a $219 penalty later this year.

Massachusetts health insurance plan was aimed at providing health coverage, which is affordable for the uninsured people. The following figures show that the plan became successful. The figures come from Urban Institute's analysis show that about 350000 out of 600000 uninsured residents were enrolled in the plan and about 60000 residents who were unable to afford even subsidized health insurance were granted exemptions.

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In 2006 about 13% of Massachusetts residents aged from 18 to 64 were uninsured, but in 2007 the number decreased to 7%. Those who are still uninsured are mainly low income males and the 1/3 of the uninsured people reported that they were unaware of the fact that the health insurance is mandatory.

Those with lowest income - less than three times the federal poverty level $66600 - were 24% uninsured. Now this number has decreased to 13%. The individuals that earned significantly more constituted the 5 percent of the uninsured, which has droped to 3 percent.

About 70% of those with lowest income received preventative care in 2007, compared to 65% in 2006. 59% of them received dental care in 2007, compared to 49% in 2006. Only 17% reported that they delayed medical care in 2007, compared to 27% in 2006.

Urban Institute's analysis also mentions that the number of uninsured has decreased only thanks to the increase of new health insurance enrollment cases. Massachusetts residents did not switch to government-provided health insurance plans from private insurance providers. Also, employers did not show a tendency of benefiting from the governmental plan. In other words, the number of those newly insured is the number of residents who were uninsured, not the number of people who were previously covered and just changed the type of health insurance coverage.

New Massachusetts health insurance plan is great help for those with low income and uninsured. The state's mandatory health plan is also a good way for health department to save medical resources. It is much better to cover the uninsured and provide with preventative health care on time, rather than to handle long hospital stays.

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