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Health Insurance Deadline: Some Residents Left ‘Out of the Loop’

October 29, 2007

Boston, MA – Residents of Massachusetts have only two weeks to get the health insurance coverage required to meet the state's end-of-year deadline. It's being recommended that everyone sign up by November 15 and Paulo Pinto, executive director of the Massachusetts Association of Portuguese Speakers, worries that certain demographic groups may not receive the message. He also believes language barriers and misinformation make it difficult for them to get the facts.

"Unfortunately, there hasn't been a lot of information provided by the ethnic and Portuguese language media educating people about the need to sign up for health insurance by the deadline."

Residents who don't have health coverage by the last day of the year will lose a $219 tax exemption. Health advocates also are concerned they're not reaching poorer populations, who may believe they just won't be able to afford coverage, whether it is required or not.

In fact, those who don't qualify for Medicaid may be eligible for Commonwealth Care, a state-run service which connects Massachusetts residents with affordable plans. Dick Powers, from the Connector Authority, which manages Commonwealth Care, explains the group is conducting a study to find out who isn't getting the message.

"We'll see where we've done well in providing information, and where we haven't; then we'll try and figure out how to reach those populations better."

The results from that research won't be available until after November 15. In the meantime, Pinto believes Massachusetts needs to deliver more information that targets hard-to-reach populations.

Kevin Clay/Craig Eicher, Public News Service - MA