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High cost of health insurance in Mass. must be fixed, says new report

About four out of five people in Massachusetts who go without health insurance do so because they say they can’t afford it, according to a report out Thursday from the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts Foundation, which advocates for equity in health care.

The report highlights barriers that remain in accessing health insurance, even in a state that implemented a health care reform law 17 years ago with affordability as one of its aims, and a state that has the highest percentage in the country of residents — about 97% — who do have health insurance.

“Most of the people who are uninsured, they want insurance,” said Audrey Shelto, president and CEO of the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts Foundation. “There are barriers to them getting it.”

Shelto said affordability, limited awareness about subsidized programs and a complex insurance system are all major barriers to getting more Massachusetts residents insured.

In seeking to fix the affordability problem in the state, the foundation’s report offers 13 policy and program recommendations. Those include increasing the number of people eligible for the state’s ConnectorCare program, which offers commercial insurance plans that have low or no monthly premiums, low co-pays and no deductibles.

Shelto said the foundation looked closely at the demographic details of hundreds of thousands of residents who are uninsured in Massachusetts, and found that someone is more likely to be uninsured if they are between the ages of 19 and 34, Hispanic, Black, work for a small business or in a low-wage industry, or pay more than 30% of their income for housing.

For instance, Hispanic residents make up 12% of the state’s population, but the foundation’s analysis of data from an April 2020 state report, finds they account for 23% of those who have gone without

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