Massachusetts reports that almost all eligible residents have health insurance

Health insurance participation in the Bay State stands at 96 percent

In a report released this week, the state government of Massachusetts revealed that 96 percent of income-eligible residents had health insurance in 2009.

As part of its bid to make health insurance available to every resident, the commonwealth mandates that residents who can afford health insurance must buy it. Those whose incomes are lower than 150 percent of the federal poverty level are exempt from the mandate; residents with incomes below 300 percent of the FPL can participate in a low-cost subsidized option called Commonwealth Care.

Massachusetts' model has been held up as an example of what national health insurance could look like. The Bay State has the lowest rate of uninsured residents in the nation, due largely to the insurance mandate.

As proposed in national healthcare reform, a penalty is assessed on Massachusetts residents who are income-eligible but don't buy insurance. The penalty is equal to half the monthly cost of the lowest premium offered by the state insurance clearinghouse.

Insurance is still too expensive for many residents, though. "We must continue to search for ways to keep quality coverage affordable," said Lindsey Tucker of the Health Care For All policy group to the Boston Globe.

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Posted: December 10, 2009

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