Massachusetts’ low uninsured rate has political implications

BY JEREMY MOULE

Massachusetts has the lowest rate of residents without health insurance of any state in the US.

That’s a simple fact, released this morning by the Census Bureau. But it has massive political overtones: Massachusetts has a health insurance system that is the basis of Obamacare. And that system – including an individual mandate – was implemented under Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney when he was governor of Massachusetts.

To put the estimates in perspective, 5.2 percent of Massachusetts residents were uninsured in 2010, the year the Census stats are based on. New York, which has relatively strong public insurance programs and laws aimed at giving citizens access to insurance, has an uninsured rate of 13.7 percent. (In Monroe County, 10 percent of residents are uninsured.)

The Census Bureau statistics don’t address how many of the insured residents in any state – 86.3 percent of New Yorkers and 94. 8 percent of Massachusetts residents – are underinsured.

Expect the Congressional and presidential candidates, as well as media pundits, to make a lot of fuss over these figures, particularly the Massachusetts numbers. They’re a key metric and an essential aspect of the broader healthcare debate.

Mitt Romney’s health-care plan gave his state the nation’s best rate of insurance coverage. PHOTO COURTESY DAVE DELAY

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