HCN News & Notes

Survey Finds Insurance-coverage Gains, but Gaps in Access, Affordability

BOSTON — Results from a survey of Massachusetts residents regarding health insurance released by the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts Foundation reveal a continued high rate of insured among the state’s population, but also challenges with access and affordability, particularly among those with lower incomes and those with higher healthcare needs.

The Massachusetts Health Reform Survey (MHRS), conducted in the fall of 2015 by the Urban Institute, highlights “sustained gains” in health-insurance coverage since the 2006 passage of the state’s healthcare reform law, with 95.7{06cf2b9696b159f874511d23dbc893eb1ac83014175ed30550cfff22781411e5} of non-elderly adults reporting coverage when surveyed last fall. The near-annual survey tracks trends in the state’s healthcare system since the 2006 passage of health reform. This is the first MHRS following the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) that began in January 2014.

The survey revealed that people who are healthier generally have more confidence in their ability to keep their insurance in the future, and have an easier time affording healthcare. Sicker respondents with chronic diseases indicated a higher degree of difficulty obtaining healthcare services and were more likely to be worried about their ability to pay for their medical bills in the future.

“The survey’s top-line trend is affirming for Massachusetts residents and policy makers alike, as the rate of adults covered at the time of the survey is very high — in fact, it is the highest ever since we began measuring in 2006,” said Audrey Shelto, president of the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts Foundation. “However, the fact that 43{06cf2b9696b159f874511d23dbc893eb1ac83014175ed30550cfff22781411e5} of insured adults report problems with affordability is a significant issue. Furthermore, these continued financial problems are disproportionately affecting our most vulnerable residents, suggesting that simply having health insurance does not guarantee access to affordable care.”

An executive summary of the report can be found here.