Census shows uninsured rate at record low

Affordable Care Act expands health coverage to more patients, although differences remain

Affordable Care Act expands health coverage to more patients, although differences remain

The number of uninsured dropped to 8.8 percent in 2016.

During the first three years after major portions of the ACA took effect, the number of uninsured Americans fell by 40%, and the percentage who are uninsured is now at an all-time low. It's the second consecutive annual decline for the measure.

More Texans are insured now than four years ago - but the state is still home to 4.5 million people without health coverage, the largest share in the country. The United States Census Bureau on Tuesday released a series of maps that vividly show broad increases in health coverage nationally in the years after full implementation of the Affordable Care Act. It had been 9.1 percent in 2015. This means that a total of 28.1 million Americans did not have insurance, down 900,000 from the previous year.

"Largely Kansas' slide compared to other states is due to the lack of Medicaid expansion, but it also reflects the state's generally negative attitude towards the ACA as a whole", Robert St. Peter, president and CEO of the Kansas Health Institute, said in an email. "The fear is that [the 2016 uninsured rates] are not a true representation of what's happening now".

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But there were sharp differences in the percentage of people uninsured at different ages, "reflecting the fragmented nature of the USA health insurance system, " the Commonwealth Fund report said. The 8.8% uninsured figure mirrors a National Center for Health Statistics 2017 National Health Interview Survey released last month. The uninsured rates vary from 2.5 percent in MA to 16.6 percent in Texas. In 2016, Kentucky, West Virginia, Connecticut and Rhode Island all surpassed or tied Wisconsin's rate of insurance coverage. "To the extent states failed to do that, it undoubtedly led to fewer persons being insured, especially among working families that are low or middle income".

"When Gov. Wolf expanded Medicaid in Pennsylvania, hundreds of thousands of uninsured were then able to obtain access to health care coverage", said Acting Secretary for Human Services Teresa Miller. The U.S. uninsured rate fell 0.8 percentage points over the year, which was considered statistically significant.

Shelby Livingston is an insurance reporter.

Like Texas, Florida can partially attribute its higher-than-average uninsured rate to a large immigrant population and a strict Medicaid program. White Americans continued to have the lowest uninsured rates by race, at just 6.3 percent. Lawmakers passed a bill that offered anyone who didn't qualify for subsides a 25 percent discount on their plans, likely keeping people who would have dropped their plan otherwise. "The uninsured rates for Blacks and Asians were higher than for non-Hispanic Whites, at 10.5 percent and 7.6 percent, respectively", Census said.

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