bay staters
bay staters

Report eyes path to aid those without health insurance

BOSTON — Thousands of Massachusetts residents from marginalized backgrounds could gain health insurance coverage should policymakers move to expand eligibility criteria for state-subsidized plans and remove administrative hurdles, a report released April 27 found.

Massachusetts boasts the highest insurance rate in the country, with about 2% to 3% lacking coverage at any point in time. But those roughly 200,000 uninsured individuals are disproportionately people of color or immigrants, and about one-third have limited English language skills that make it difficult to use the state’s insurance marketplace, according to the report from the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts Foundation.

“Massachusetts pioneered a system of near-universal health care coverage that was later adopted nationally in the Affordable Care Act. We have a lot to be proud of, but our work is not finished,” Audrey Shelto, president and CEO of the foundation, said in a statement. “Our research shows there is an opportunity to build on our legacy by tackling the coverage disparities that persist in our system through further action on the policy front.”

The report pointed to another statistic to put the state of the uninsured in perspective. The state’s overall low uninsured rate climbed above 7% — encompassing about 503,000 people — in a 2019 state survey that probed how many individuals didn’t have coverage over a 12-month period, the report noted.

The new report comes as hundreds of thousands of people stand to lose MassHealth insurance coverage as program administrators redetermine eligibility for 2.3 million members. Some of those people remain eligible for certain subsidized plans, the foundation said.

Researchers found that Black residents comprise 7% of the state population, but 11% of Bay Staters who are uninsured. Hispanic residents represent 12% of the state population but 23% of the uninsured population. Meanwhile, just over half of

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