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Mass. subsidized plan enrollment tops projections


BOSTON—A Massachusetts program that subsidizes health insurance premiums for low-income uninsured state residents is on track to exceed earlier enrollment projections, state officials said Tuesday.

As of April 1, nearly 63,000 people had enrolled in Commonwealth Care, which is available to residents whose annual incomes are less than 300% of the federal poverty level.

When the program—authorized by the state's 2006 universal health care law—began Oct. 1, 2006, state officials thought that about half of the 140,000 Massachusetts residents eligible for coverage would sign up by July 1 of this year.

Based on recent enrollment trends, state officials now project that July 1 enrollment goal of 70,000 will be surpassed. State residents can choose among health plans offered by several managed care organizations.

The program is a key component of the 2006 law, which is intended to help the state achieve near-universal health care coverage within a few years. In passing the measure, lawmakers said they believed it would be more cost-effective to subsidize health insurance premiums for previously uninsured low-income state residents than to reimburse hospitals for providing care—often in expensive emergency room settings—to those without coverage.

Commonwealth Care is available to those individuals age 19 and older with a family income no greater than just over $30,000 a year and who previously lacked health insurance coverage.