Exploring the Effect of Reform on Massachusetts' Uninsured and Underinsured Populations

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<p>The percentage of people with health insurance has risen dramatically in the past year in Massachusetts, but what has the effect been on specific uninsured populations, and have reforms simply pushed people from being uninsured to underinsured? Two new Urban Institute studies by Sharon K. Long--funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Massachusetts Foundation, and The Commonwealth Fund--explore the aftermath of health reform on specific groups of state residents.<br><br><a href="http://www.urban.org/publications/411770.html">Who Gained the Most Under Health Reform in Massachusetts?</a> shows that the greatest gains in insurance coverage were reported by lower-income adults, younger adults and those in minority groups. The reductions in uninsurance tended to be largest for subgroups that started out with higher levels of uninsurance. Uninsurance among males, for example, fell by half, compared to a one-third drop for females. Among working adults, uninsurance among employees of small firms fell 10 percentage points, compared to a three percentage point drop among those in larger firms. A new <a href="/publications/data-briefs/2008/oct/the-impact-of-health-reform-on-underinsurance-in-massachusetts--do-the-insured-have-adequate-protect
"> Data Brief</a> from the Commission on a High Performance Health System on the study reviews these findings and discusses how health reform in Massachusetts underscores the importance of benefit design for insurance expansion strategies at the federal level.<br><br><a href="http://www.urban.org/publications/411771.html">The Impact of Health Reform on Underinsurance in Massachusetts: Do the Insured Have Adequate Protection?</a> explores whether requiring individuals to have health insurance would force some people, particularly those with modest incomes, into plans that offer little financial protection. The findings suggest, however, that health reform in Massachusetts is both providing new coverage for many of those who were previously uninsured and improving the quality of coverage for those with insurance coverage. Compared to the United States as a whole, insured adults in Massachusetts have greater protection from the financial risks of a major illness or injury: only about 6 percent of insured adults in Massachusetts were underinsured in 2007, compared to 17 percent of insured adults throughout the nation.</p>