I’m extremely fortunate to live in the Greater Boston-area, which happens to be a world-renowned healthcare hub. It is the home to top-notch hospitals and the place of work for distinguished practitioners. With such an efficient healthcare system, there are other great benefits that derive from it. According to US News, Massachusetts ranks second in the nation for access to healthcare (1). A primary mode of healthcare access is healthcare insurance. In Massachusetts, an impressive 97.2% of residents were found to have some form of health insurance according to the 2018 Census (2). With this being said, 74% of Massachusetts residents have a form of private insurance and 36.6% have a form of public insurance.
Unemployment and the Pandemic
In the age of the coronavirus pandemic, insurance coverage and access to healthcare have taken on a whole new meaning and value. 55% of ensured Massachusetts residents receive their coverage through their employers (3). As unemployment surges throughout the state, people are fearing that they will consequently no longer be covered during this public health crisis. This fear is perfectly valid, as over 722,000 unemployment claims have been filed in the past six weeks in Massachusetts (4). Depending on the trends of the pandemic, healthcare coverage and the way people obtain care with their coverage could drastically change.
Another factor impacting access to healthcare in the Boston area is transportation. If a car is out of the question, there are several different ways to get where you need to go in and around the city of Boston. Most locally, there are private medical practices scattered throughout Boston-suburbs and the local hospital that one could access within walking distance. The local hospital also offers a complimentary shuttle to its main location as well as to any services directly affiliated with the hospital (5). However, if more specialized care is needed, one would likely have to go closer to the city of Boston. Mode of public transport to get into the city include the bus, subway, commuter rail, commuter boat, and a para-transit bus. Prices range from $2 for a one-way bus ticket to upwards of $13.25 for a one-way commuter rail ticket (6). For someone without a car, public transportation to city hospitals can be quite expensive.
Prioritizing Safety in Public Transport
Again, the pandemic has drastically affected transportation and how people around Boston are able to access healthcare. Due to safety reasons and a drastic decrease in work commuters, all modes of public transport in the state have modified their levels of service. Bus and subway lines have made slight reductions in service and the commuter rail has significantly reduced service (7). The shared para-transit bus and the commuter boat have halted service entirely (7). Using these modes of transportation in current times is also extremely dangerous, as the risk of contracting coronavirus is highly possible when surrounding oneself with groups of people. For this reason, wearing a face covering and social distancing measures are highly encouraged while using public transport (7).
- “These U.S. States Have the Best Healthcare.” U.S. News & World Report, U.S. News & World Report, www.usnews.com/news/best-states/rankings/health-care.
- U.S. Census Bureau. “State-by-State Health Insurance Coverage in 2018.” The United States Census Bureau, 7 Nov. 2019, www.census.gov/library/stories/2019/11/state-by-state-health-insurance-coverage-2018.html.
- “Health Insurance Coverage of the Total Population.” The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, 23 Apr. 2020, www.kff.org/other/state-indicator/total-population/?dataView=0¤tTimeframe=0&selectedDistributions=employer&sortModel=%7B%22colId%22%3A%22Location%22%2C%22sort%22%3A%22asc%22%7D.
- Associated Press. “Another 70,700 Unemployment Claims Filed in Massachusetts.” WCVB, WCVB, 30 Apr. 2020, www.wcvb.com/article/new-unemployment-claims-continue-rise-coronavirus-crisis-massachusetts-april-30/32330159.
- “South Shore Hospital.” South Shore Health, www.southshorehealth.org/locations/south-shore-hospital.
- Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority. “Fares Overview.” MBTA, www.mbta.com/fares.
- Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority. “Coronavirus Updates for May 9 – 10, 2020.” MBTA, www.mbta.com/covid19.
- Solis, Steph. MSN, Masslive.com, Boston, 23 Apr. 2020, www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/mbta-needs-to-take-additional-steps-to-combat-coronavirus-pioneer-institute-study-says/ar-BB136dcm.