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Massachusetts health care — wonky, with a healthy dose of reality

CHIA Reports on ACA: "Massachusetts is growing closer to near-universal coverage."

CHIA Reports on ACA: "Massachusetts is growing closer to near-universal coverage."

June 9, 2014

CHIA report showing growth in health insurance enrollment 6-8-14CHIA, the state's Center for Health Information and Analysis, just released their latest report totaling all enrollment in insurance coverage in Massachusetts. This is the first report that looks at the impact of the ACA coverage expansions here, which started on January 1, 2014.

The breathtaking bottom line: The ACA has dramatically expanded health coverage in Massachusetts. In just the 3 months between December 31, 2013 and March 31, 2014, total coverage increased by more than 215,000 people, or around 3.9%.

CHIA's conclusion:

A reported enrollment increase of this magnitude suggests that Massachusetts has been successful in its effort to ensure that residents maintain health coverage, even through this period of transition. Notably, the reported increase in enrollment is similar in size to the estimated 2012 uninsured population in Massachusetts. These data may indicate that Massachusetts is growing closer to near-universal coverage.

Diving into the findings:

  • Commercial health plan enrollment held steady, with a negligible drop of 10,233, or 0.2%.
  • Public coverage grew by 19%. Regular MassHealth coverage grew by about 175,000, with many of these people coming from the Commonwealth Care program, which lost 113,000 people, about half of its members. As of the cut-off date for the report, temporary MassHealth transitional coverage was over 167,000. However, it continues to grow, and was just above 201,000 on May 6, 2014. This transitional program covers people who apply for state-subsidized coverage while our new program eligibility system is being revamped.
  • Thus, the growth in subsidized coverage is NOT coming from people losing employer-based coverage. Rather, it appears that the ACA is allowing the system to enroll previously uninsured people.

Combine the findings on coverage reported today, with the mountain of positive evidence on the impact of health coverage expansion in Massachusetts, and the conclusion is that the ACA is expanding access to care and improving health outcomes in Massachusetts.

We're pleased that CHIA issued this report, which includes two powerpoint charts, a data spreadsheet, and technical notes. The report resurrects part of the the respected DHCFP key indicators survey, last issued in 2011, that asked each of the major insurers to report on their total enrollment. This methodology provides a useful quick-check for how we're doing on coverage. We hope these reports become a regular update for the state.

  -Brian Rosman