Census data produces opposing views of the uninsured in Massachusetts

Here’s a glass half full/empty debate. Hooray — 94 percent of Mass residents have health insurance. Or, Boo — 5.5 percent remain uninsured.

 From the single payer supporters at Physicians for a National Health Program

pnhp logo

New uninsured figures show Massachusetts, touted as model for national reform, is failing to cover the uninsured

17,000-member organization of physicians says latest numbers show urgent need for single-payer health reform

Official estimates released this morning by the Census Bureau showing a marginal increase in the number of Americans without health insurance in 2008 – now estimated at 46.3 million, up from 45.7 million in 2007 – masks the true dimensions of the problem, a national doctors’ group said.

 Significantly, in Massachusetts, where an individual-mandate health reform law, much like what President Obama is proposing on a national scale, was passed in 2006, at least 352,000 people, or 5.5 percent of the population, remained uninsured in 2008. That number was actually (but non-significantly) higher than the number of uninsured in 2007, before strict enforcement of the individual and employer mandates went into effect.

 “The legislation championed by the president and the congressional leadership is a virtual clone of the Massachusetts plan,” said Dr. Steffie Woolhandler, professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and co-founder of Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP). “Today’s numbers show that plans that require people to buy private insurance don’t work. Obama’s plan to replicate Massachusetts’ reform nationally risks failure on a massive scale.”

 mass budget center logoThis from the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center which “provides independent research and analysis of state budget and tax policies, as well as economic issues, that affect low- and moderate-income people in Massachusetts. ” Via Commonhealth

 Facts At a Glance

Massachusetts Leads Nation in Health Care Coverage

 Thursday, September 10, 2009

 A larger percentage of people in Massachusetts have health care coverage than in any other state in the nation, according to data released by the Census Bureau today. Census estimates state that more than 94 percent of residents in the Commonwealth had health insurance in the 2007-2008 period, with Hawaii a distant second at just over 92 percent. Nationally, only 85 percent of people in the United States had health coverage in the 2007-2008 period.

 This uninsurance rate of 5.4 percent clearly demonstrates the impact of the Massachusetts health reform law, as these are the first complete two-year Census data measuring coverage since the Commonwealth implemented health reform in April 2006. Census Bureau estimates indicated that in the 2005-2006 period, 9.8 percent of the Commonwealth’s population did not have health insurance.


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