Holy Cats: Massachusetts reaches nearly 100% insured!! (UPDATED)
Well I'll be damned:
When Massachusetts passed its landmark health coverage law under Gov. Mitt Romney in 2006, no one claimed the state would get to zero, as in 0 percent of residents who are uninsured. But numbers out today suggest Massachusetts is very close.
Between December 2013 and March of this year, when the federal government was urging people to enroll, the number of Massachusetts residents signed up for health coverage increased by more than 215,000. If that number holds, the percentage of Massachusetts residents who do not have coverage has dropped to less than 1 percent.
According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, Massachusetts only had around 242,000 uninsured residents out of 6.65 million total as of last September (about 3.6%), just before the ACA exchanges launched. So on the one hand, Massachusetts already had the lowest uninsured rate in the country due, of course, to RomneyCare, the precursor of Obamacare (no matter how much Mitt wants to deny it now, Lord knows why...)
On the other hand, given what a complete disaster the Massachusetts ACA website has been (and continues to be), the "number covered" is a bit on the shaky side, to put it mildly:
Uncertainty might be an understatement. One insurance insider says there is chaos behind the scenes. Most of the new enrollees are in a temporary coverage plan because the state, with its failed website, has not been able to figure out if these people qualify for free or subsidized care.
HOWEVER, that's more of a paperwork issue. The bottom line is that once they finally sort everything out and the dust settles, it looks like the final uninsured rate could end being only a 0.5% or lower:
...Some state officials expect the numbers to hold. That’s because despite a broken website and tons of confusion about deadlines and eligibility, it looks like more than 200,000 residents who did not have health insurance last year pushed to enroll.
...The state may be dropping even closer to zero than the numbers from CHIA indicate. This analysis is based on 167,000 residents in temporary coverage at the end of March. As of today, there are 217,000 in that plan. It’s not clear how many of these people are newly insured. Private health insurers lost at least 10,000 members during the first quarter of this year.
Considering the website embarrassment, just like in Oregon, this is actually quite amazing. It looks very much like in spite of everything, the Affordable Care Act has completed the job that Romney (credit where due, even if he doesn't want it and the GOP is in denial about it) started.
UPDATE: Someone just posted the following comment at a cross-posting of this diary over at dKos; I can't vouch for it's authenticity, but if true, this buys the state some more time to straighten things out:
Just heard about the fourth postponement of the end of Commonwealth Care. Pushed back to the end of 2014. No "official" notice yet, even though the official end date of the program is currently June 30. I'm lucky to have a friend Helen that is now willing to serve as my health care advocate, and she shook that little nugget out of the state on Friday. A huge relief. The website has been so messed up that in December I filed my renewal for free/subsidized care on paper for that "deadline". I was told a dead-tree filing was OK. But I still haven't heard anything back that my application was even received, never mind approved. So it's not all peaches and cream here if you're actually in the boat. As a disabled person I'm part of a particularly vulnerable population, and we're being left entirely in the dark as to what's going on.
The short version is that there's 217,000 people stuck in sort of a "limbo coverage" status while the state tries to unravel their status. Originally the program they're being covered by was supposed to be discontinued last spring, then at the end of June; if the comment above is accurate, it's been bumped out another 6 months to the end of the year...by which point we'll be in the middle of the second open enrollment period, and Massachusetts will either a) be using a completely new exchange run by themselves or b) will have dumped everything onto the federal exchange at Healthcare.gov.
Either way, with this development it definitely sounds like MA's uninsured level has indeed dropped down to well below 1%. Mazel Tov!