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Elizabeth Cooney is a health reporter for the Worcester Telegram & Gazette.
Boston Globe Health and Science staff:
Karen Weintraub, Deputy Health and Science Editor, and Gideon Gil, Health and Science Editor.
Short White Coat blogger Ishani Ganguli
Short White Coat blogger Jennifer Srygley
Thursday, April 12, 2007
Board approves exemptions to health insurance law
By Alice Dembner, Globe Staff
A state board voted unanimously this morning to allow about 20 percent of the state’s uninsured adults to avoid buying insurance. A law requiring coverage for everyone who is not specifically exempted takes effect July 1.
The Commonwealth Health Insurance Connector board decided that even the lowest-cost insurance would not be affordable for about 68,000 individuals with low and moderate incomes.
The board also extended free coverage to individuals earning up to about $15,000 a year and families of 4 earning up to $31,000, and reduced the cost of insurance by $5 a month for those earning between $15,000 and $20,000 who are eligible for Commonwealth Care.
Board members yesterday said the moves were a compromise, designed to provide affordable coverage for 99 percent of the state’s population, but also provide an exception for those who would be truly burdened by the monthly premiums. People who are exempt will continue to be able to get emergency care through the state’s free care pool.
A person would be automatically exempted for example, if he or she earned about $33,000 and can’t find coverage for less than $150 a month. A family earning would be exempt, for example, if it earned up to $70,000 and could not find insurance premiums for $320 or less.