Massachusetts, U.S., is about to embark on an ambitious plan promising up to 99 percent of adults, access to health insurance.
The state is expected to set limits to how much people would be expected to pay in order to gain health insurance. This move is hoped to mean that at least 270,000 uninsured adults of the state will be able to afford premiums and vital medical care.
The proposal will be income-based, meaning that people will be expected to pay a certain amount towards their premiums, based upon their yearly income.
The proposal sets a sliding scale of affordability standards in which, for example, a single person earning $40,001 a year would be expected to pay no more than 9 percent of income, or about $300 a month, for health insurance; a single person earning $25,000 a year would be expected to pay a much smaller percentage, about 3.3 percent of income, or $70 a month.
The state is also launching a campaign in which it will go all the way to encourage people to sign up for health insurance, either through private companies or subsidized state plans.
Says Leslie Kirwan, chairwoman of the board of the Commonwealth Health Insurance Connector Authority, which will be supervising the healthcare law: "Our vote . . . sets the stage for covering virtually everyone with insurance, that meets the highest standards in the nation."
Kirwan also stated that healthcare providers may be persuaded to reduce their premiums on the condition that many healthy adults buy coverage, and in this way spreading the cost of health care to sicker people.
Other good news is that those state residents, who are still unable to afford to purchase health insurance, will still be covered under state-subsidized programs.
In addition individual "hardship waivers" exist, which persons who feel that their situation warrants special exemptions, can apply for.
"It's a tremendous victory," says the Rev. Hurmon Hamilton, pastor of Roxbury Presbyterian Church and president of the Greater Boston Interfaith Organization.
"It casts the widest possible net across those who are uninsured, while protecting the most vulnerable."