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Health Insurance Coverage and Care in Massachusetts

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The Center for Health Information and Analysis (CHIA) has launched a new series exploring health care equity issues in the Commonwealth, beginning with a baseline assessment of gaps in health insurance coverage, access, utilization, and affordability in the period leading up to the COVID-19 pandemic. Findings from this series are derived from the 2015, 2017, and 2019 Massachusetts Health Insurance Survey (MHIS).

Key Findings from A Baseline Assessment of Gaps by Age, Race and Ethnicity, and Income

  • Among residents with low family incomes, 78.8% of Black residents and 75.0% of Hispanic residents reported having 12 or more months of continuous health insurance coverage, compared with 91.7% of White residents.
  • The racial/ethnic differences in access to health care were most prominent among residents with moderate family income: 39.3% of Hispanic residents reported difficulties accessing care at a doctor’s office or clinic, compared with 29.6% of White residents.
  • Compared to White residents, Black residents were nearly twice as likely to have a potential reliance on the ER for care. Hispanic residents were nearly three times as likely.
  • Residents at the lowest family income level were 2.5 times more likely than those at the highest family income level to rely on the ER for care.
  • About one in three Hispanic residents (32.5%) and over one in four Black residents (27.3%) reported unmet health care needs due to cost, higher than the rate for White residents (22.8%).
  • Within every racial/ethnic group, the highest rates of family medical debt or problems paying family medical bills were for residents in the moderate family income group.

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