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

Audrey Shelto, President of Blue Cross Foundation, On Our “Near-Universal” Health Care

Audrey Shelto, President of Blue Cross Foundation, On Our “Near-Universal” Health Care

August 17, 2015

We've come a long way since 2006, but still have a distance to go. That's the message of an opinion piece in the Tauton Daily Gazette by Audrey Shelto, President of the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts Foundation. She notes that census data indicate that, still, four percent of Massachusetts’ population – more than 250,000 people – remain uninsured.

The number of uninsured is much higher in some areas of the Commonwealth. In April, the Foundation released a report that found that uninsurance rates are sharply higher in certain pockets of the state. In one section of Framingham, the average estimated rate was 19 percent, while a slice of East Boston stood at 24 percent uninsured.

Shelto also discussed the 2013 Massachusetts Health Reform Survey report released this June, which found that:

  • While many Massachusetts residents who previously lacked insurance have obtained public coverage, barriers remain in obtaining access to health care services that offer the quality and affordability that all Bay State residents deserve.
  • Those with public insurance plans are nearly three times more likely to have difficulty finding a provider who is accepting new patients. They are nearly five times more likely to struggle to find such a provider who accepts their insurance. And even when they do, they are nearly three times as likely to face delays in finding a primary-care doctor.
  • Even when those using public insurance plans do manage to get the care they need, they often report a lower quality of care and lower satisfaction with that care than do those on employer-sponsored plans.

Shelto concludes by emphasizing that Massachusetts is noted for its medical expertise and excellence, as well as for being a “national leader in moving the uninsured onto the rolls of the insured,” but “serious gaps persist in delivering quality health care, at affordable rates, to all.... The commonwealth hasn’t yet reached its goal of truly universal coverage, but that day is closer than ever.”

The full article can be found here.

             -- Michelle Savuto