Document Type

Fact Sheet

Publication Date



As a result of Massachusetts’ 2006 health insurance coverage law, there has been a significant decrease in the uninsurance rate for women of color. Access to and use of health care for all women in the Commonwealth has also increased. Despite these coverage and access gains, major racial/ethnic disparities in health conditions and outcomes still exist among women, especially in the use and quality of prenatal care, the occurrence of preterm and low birth weight births, and infant mortality rates. The proportion of Massachusetts births that were cesarean deliveries in 2007 was 8% higher than the national rate. Compared to other women in the country, Massachusetts women have particularly high rates of AIDS, lung cancer, and breast cancer. In addition, there are critical shortages of primary care physicians and Ob-Gyns in several regions of the state. In 2005, 14.6% of the total Massachusetts population was foreign born. The racial/ethnic breakdown of Massachusetts residents is: 6% African American/black, 8% Hispanic, 5% Asian, 0.2% American Indian and 80% nonHispanic white. Nearly 17% (16.9%) of women aged 19-64 are covered by Medicaid.


Authored by Dorothy Hiersteiner, Research Assistant, Center for Women in Politics & Public Policy, and MPP Candidate, Heller School for Social Policy and Management, Brandeis University.



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