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Massachusetts' Health Care Reform Increased Access To Care For Hispanics, But Disparities Remain

Massachusetts' Health Care Reform Increased Access To Care For Hispanics, But Disparities Remain in Health AffairsMassachusetts' health care reform has greatly expanded the proportion of the state's population with health insurance and the rate of coverage among Hispanics increased more dramatically than for non-Hispanic whites. Despite these gains, however, important disparities persist. In 2009, 79 percent of Hispanics had coverage, versus 96 percent of non-Hispanic whites.

This paper evaluates the extent to which health reforms in Massachusetts have reduced racial and ethnic disparities in insurance coverage and access to health care. JSI found that language and other cultural factors remained significant barriers to get coverage: only 67 percent of Hispanics with limited proficiency in English were insured after health reform in 2009. Difficulty finding a personal provider and cost also represented barriers to receiving care. One-third of Spanish-speaking Hispanics still did not have a personal provider in 2009, and 27 percent reported not seeing a doctor because of cost, up from 19 percent in 2005.

The research suggests strategies to further reduce disparities such as simplified health insurance enrollment and reenrollment processes and help finding a provider, and navigating an unfamiliar care system. The study has major implications for implementing the Affordable Care Act as many other states have larger Hispanic populations. Health Affairs, Vol. 30, No. 8, 2011. James Maxwell, Dharma E. Cortés, Karen L. Schneider, Anna Graves, and Brian Rosman, JSI.

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