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Near universal health coverage reported in several Massachusetts counties


Massachusetts, which has the lowest uninsured rate of any state, also has several counties with near universal health insurance coverage rates, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Just 2.6% of the population of Norfolk County, Massachusetts. which includes such affluent communities as Brookline, Dover, Needham and Wellesley, was uninsured in 2014, the Census Bureau reported in a survey last week.

Following just behind Norfolk County was Worchester County, where 2.7% of the population was uninsured, and Middlesex County, with 2.8%. Because of the margin of error, the differences between the three counties are not statistically different.

In 2014, 3.3% of Massachusetts's population was uninsured — the lowest of any U.S. state — the Census Bureau reported earlier.

That low uninsured rate for years was aided by Massachusetts' 2006 health care reform law, which offered state premium subsidies for the lower-income uninsured and required employers — except very small firms — to offer coverage or pay a fine.

Those premium subsidies now largely come from the federal government under a provision of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act that took effect last year, while the fines on employers not offering coverage were formally repealed in Massachusetts last year. The ACA sets stiff fines on employers that do not provide coverage.

For the nation's biggest states, each state's county with the lowest uninsured rates for 2014, according to the Census Bureau analysis, were:

• Marin, California, 6.4%

• Coryell, Texas, 8.2%

• Saratoga, New York, 3.7%

• Sumter, Florida, 8.7%

• Kendall, Illinois, 3.6%

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