State's Uninsured Rate Dropped Last Year, But Trend May Not Continue

Sep 14, 2017, 00:55
State's Uninsured Rate Dropped Last Year, But Trend May Not Continue

According to data released this week from the U.S. Census Bureau, only 8.8 percent of Americans were uninsured in 2016. The uninsured rate last year was 0.3 percentage points lower than what it was in 2015 - and nearly half of what it was in 2010, the year that Obamacare began taking effect. It's the second consecutive annual decline for the measure.

As discussions about the future of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) continue on Capitol Hill, at least one thing is certain: The law has led to a record number of people having health insurance.

The U.S. Census found the overall percentage of insured Americans increased by about 4 percentage points since 2013 and more than 3 percentage points insured by a private health plan, which is mostly due to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) plans and individual mandate that requires most Americans to have health insurance.

By 2016, however, the rate in Kansas had fallen only 3.5 percentage points, while the national uninsured rate fell almost 6 percentage points. This means that a total of 28.1 million Americans did not have insurance, down 900,000 from the previous year.

The Lone Star State has always had historically high numbers of uninsured, partially attributed to a large immigrant population, a limited Medicaid program and a lower-than-average rate of employers who offer health coverage.

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But the following year, 2014, saw a dramatic decrease in the dark blue areas of the U.S.as millions of people obtained health coverage, with much of the northern states in the country turning lighter blue, according to Census' maps. Lighter shades of blue highlight states with lower uninsured rates.

When Obama took office in 2009, during the worst economic recession since the Great Depression, more than 50 million Americans were uninsured, or almost 17 percent of the population.

The ACA helped lower the uninsured rate by ushering in new health insurance requirements and expanding eligibility for coverage.

But Vance Ginn, senior economist for the conservative Texas Public Policy Foundation, said states with expanded Medicaid coverage do not necessarily improve residents' health outcomes. The 8.8% uninsured figure mirrors a National Center for Health Statistics 2017 National Health Interview Survey released last month. The only statistically significant gain in coverage (0.4 percent) was in the Medicare population. White Americans continued to have the lowest uninsured rates by race, at just 6.3 percent. Census' report for that year showed that 10.4 percent of Americans, or 33 million people, still lacked insurance. Only Texas had an uninsured rate above 14 percent, and only three other states - Florida, Georgia and Oklahoma - had uninsured rates of 12 percent or higher. Meanwhile, 10.5% of black people and 7.6% of Asians were uninsured.

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