Foundation Backs Universal Coverage Proposal

Massachusetts might be able to achieve universal access to health coverage with a relatively modest public investment.[@@]

The Blue Cross Blue Shield Foundation of Massachusetts, Boston, has released an analysis predicting that the state could cover all of its uninsured residents for between $700 million and $900 million in new government spending.

Ultimately, $1.5 billion in economic and social benefits would accrue due to improved health and other positive effects on the state’s economy, according to the health finance researchers who wrote the analysis.

“Massachusetts is well-positioned to achieve universal coverage,” the researchers write. “The state already has a strong base of employer and public coverage and a relatively low uninsurance rate.”

Massachusetts spends more than $1 billion per year to provide care for the uninsured, the researchers report.

“This existing spending represents resources that could potentially be redirected to help fund new coverage,” the researchers write.

The researchers make the following suggestions for increasing Massachusetts resident’ access to health coverage:

- Increase income limits for participation in a state health coverage program for low-income children and their parents, to 200% for the children and 133% for the parents.

- Use tax credits to help adults with incomes between 133% and 400% of the federal poverty level pay for health coverage.

- Set up a voluntary health coverage purchasing pool for small businesses and low-income individuals.

- Provide government-funded reinsurance that would pay 75% of individual costs incurred above $35,000 in the non-group market and for firms with fewer than 100 workers.