A Healthy Blog

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

Insurance Coverage UP - 5.3% This Year

Insurance Coverage UP - 5.3% This Year

October 21, 2014

We've said it for years - the ACA will increase insurance coverage in Massachusetts.

And despite all of the failures with the Connector/MassHealth website and enrollment technology, new data from CHIA show a remarkable increase in insurance coverage in Massachusetts this year:

CHIA data show increase of 5.3% in Massachusetts insurance in 2014

The expansion in coverage comes from an increase in subsidized coverage through MassHealth, reflecting both increased eligibility due to the ACA, and the temporary transitional coverage that new applicants were placed into due to problems with the Connector web and eligibility system. The total increased enrollment in publicy-assisted coverage from Dec. 2013 through July 2014 was around 316,000 people.

Most notably, the big increase in publicly-assisted coverage was not matched by a substantial decrease in commercial, private coverage through employers. Commercial coverage from Dec. 2013 through July 2014 declined by just under 23,000 people, or 0.5%.

This has been a recurring theme in Massachusetts health reform, that bodes well for the ACA. The fears of "crowd-out" - that employers would drop their coverage en masse and push their workers onto public programs - has just not happened Employers for the most part have continued to offer coverage, and the expansion of assistance has picked up the formerly uninsured who could not afford or were not offered employer coverage.

This new Enrollment Trends report (released as a 1-page briefing, a 3-slide powerpoint, a spreadsheet, and technical notes) is based on an actual count of who is enrolled in each major insurer's plan. It's not exactly translatable into an uninsurance rate, which CHIA will be releasing early next year.

The bottom line of this study is very clear: Massachusetts continues to make exceptional progress in expanding health coverage to virtually every person in the state.

     - Brian Rosman