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Faces of MassHealth: Portrait of a Diverse Population

Faces of MassHealth: Portrait of a Diverse Population

May 21, 2019

MassHealth – the state’s combined Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) – is a cornerstone of the Massachusetts health coverage system, providing coverage of medical, behavioral health and community-based services for 1.8 million low-income Massachusetts residents. MassHealth enrollees are often characterized by a narrow set of baseline statistics; however, MassHealth enrollees represent a diverse range of life experiences and health care needs.

MassHealth serves our most vulnerable residents across their life spans from infants and children with special needs who gain access to comprehensive health care and support services required to reach their full potential, to the elderly and those living with disabilities who receive community-based care that helps them remain in their home. MassHealth provides health insurance to more than 1 in 4 Massachusetts residents, including: more than half of the population with disabilities; more than 40% of all children; and 3 out of 5 people in low-income families.

Health Care For All is proud to partner with Manatt Health and the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts (BCBSMA) Foundation on a new publication, Faces of MassHealth: Portrait of a Diverse Population. This detailed set of data and narrative profiles of MassHealth enrollees illustrate the different life circumstances that lead people to MassHealth, and the various ways that MassHealth touches their lives.

Key findings from the quantitative portion of this project include:

  • The geographic distribution of MassHealth members mirrors that of the Commonwealth’s population.
  • The vast majority of MassHealth enrollees have very low incomes, well below the poverty level.
  • Women account for more than half of all adults and nearly two-thirds of seniors enrolled in MassHealth.
  • Unstable housing is a problem for more than 1 in 10 MassHealth enrollees.
  • Children, seniors and people with disabilities make up 60% of the MassHealth population.
  • While most MassHealth enrollees speak English as their primary language, a substantial minority do not.
  • The MassHealth population is racially and ethnically diverse, but more than 6 in 10 enrollees self-identify as white.

In addition to the quantitative analysis, the qualitative portion of the report includes five journalistic profiles of MassHealth enrollees. Health Care For All extends gratitude to Jessica, Anne, Kristal and Sal, Angela and Massimo, and Amy, for sharing their stories, which made this project possible. Special thanks go to Natalie Litton, Health Care For All’s former Policy and Policy Coordinator, who led this section of the project, undertaking extensive outreach efforts, conducting interviews, and writing the five journalistic profiles contained in the report.

We hope this report will help policymakers and other stakeholders better understand the breadth and diversity of the individuals and families across the Commonwealth who rely on MassHealth coverage in order to access the health care they need. Faces of MassHealth points to the critical work of protecting and sustaining the MassHealth program over the long term, to ensure that the program is available to Massachusetts residents from all walks of life who need it.