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Massachusetts' insured rate hits 98.1%: Analysis

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BOSTON—The percentage of residents enrolled in a health care plan continues to increase in Massachusetts, the only state to achieve near-universal health insurance coverage, according to a report.

As of June, 98.1% of state residents had coverage compared with 97.3% in 2009, according to a report released Monday by the Massachusetts Division of Health Care Finance and Policy.

Hawaii had the second-highest insured rate in 2009 at 91.8%, according to the latest data available from the U.S. Census Bureau. Overall, 83.3% of U.S. residents had coverage in 2009.

The report, “Health Insurance Coverage in Massachusetts: Results from the 2008-2010 Massachusetts Health Insurance Surveys,” was conducted by the Urban Institute, a Washington-based research organization, and is based on a survey of more than 4,000 households.

“Massachusetts' achievements in health care reform have been nothing short of extraordinary,” Massachusetts Secretary of Health and Human Services Dr. JudyAnn Bigby said in a statement. “With employers, government and individuals all sharing the responsibility of reform, we continue to have the highest insurance rate in the nation,” she added.

The Urban Institute report found that 65.1% of state residents received coverage from employers; 16.4% obtained coverage from Medicare; and 16.6% were insured through public plans, such as Commonwealth Care, the Massachusetts program that subsidizes health premiums for the lower-income uninsured.

Looking at uninsured rate by age, just 0.2% of children up to age 18 were uninsured in 2010 compared with 2.9% of adults age 18 through 64 and 0.4% of state residents age 65 and older.

Several provisions in Massachusetts' pioneering 2006 health care reform law have been critical in boosting coverage, experts say, including state premium subsidies, imposing penalties of more than $1,000 a year on individuals not enrolled in a health care plan, and an annual assessment of $295 per employee on employers that do not offer coverage except for very small firms.

The report is available at www.mass.gov.