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Massachusetts Still Leads in Health Care Coverage

September 22, 2011

Health insurance coverage in Massachusetts far surpasses coverage nationally and in all other states, detailed statistics released by the Census Bureau today confirm.1 These data, from the American Community Survey, are more detailed and precise than the estimates released earlier this month, and show that 96 percent of residents in the Commonwealth had health insurance coverage in 2010. Nationally, 85 percent of the population had health insurance coverage in 2010. Texas and Nevada show the poorest coverage, with only 76 and 77 percent coverage respectively.

Massachusetts Leads Nation with 96% Health Insurance Coverage

Massachusetts also continues to lead the nation in the percent of children with health care coverage. In 2010, 98.5 percent of children in the Commonwealth had health insurance coverage. Nationally, 92 percent of children had health care coverage in 2010, but while 32 states and the District of Columbia all have health care coverage rates for children better than the national average, there are states such as Nevada and Texas where close to one out of six or seven children were still without health care coverage in 2010.

Health care coverage for adults tells a similar story, but the success in coverage of adults since the passage of health reform is dramatic. Massachusetts leads the nation in health care coverage for adults under age 65, with health care coverage rates at more than 95 percent. Only Vermont comes close to the Commonwealth, with coverage rates for adults close to 93 percent. Nationally, health care coverage for adults under age 65 is close to 78 percent, and ranges as low as 65 percent in Texas and 67 percent in Nevada. In 2010, Massachusetts also had among the highest rates of employer-based health insurance coverage – both for people who worked full time (86 percent) and for those who worked less than full-time (63 percent).

Unlike the data released earlier this month, the American Community Survey data allow for in-depth analysis of information at the state level, and allows for direct comparisons among states (without the need to use multi-year averages.) This year, however, is only the third year that this survey has included information about health insurance coverage, and because of changes in the survey methodology, the data are currently limited in the ability to analyze trends over time.

1These data are from the American Community Survey (ACS), a huge (close to three million) annual survey of American residents. This survey provides comprehensive and detailed information on a wide variety of household characteristics, including age, income, racial characteristics, and detailed information about housing. The Census Bureau has been conducting the ACS since 2000, and in 2008, the ACS survey began asking questions about health insurance coverage. Earlier in the month, the Census Bureau released data from the Current Population Survey Annual Social & Economic Supplement (CPS), which MassBudget reported on here: http://massbudget.org/802. The CPS annual data release uses a much smaller sample size (only 100,000 addresses), and in order to make comparisons among states, with the CPS one must use multi-year averages. The ACS is the preferred survey for understanding state level health care and poverty data, but because it is relatively new one cannot use this survey to examine trends over long periods of time.