The CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics has published an early release of findings on US health insurance coverage from January – March 2015, and the numbers show a continued decline in the number of US residents without health insurance. The report presents findings from the National Health Insurance Survey, and the headline estimate is that just 9.2% of people (29 million) were uninsured at the time of the interview. That’s down from the same time period last year, when 13.4% lacked insurance coverage.
The report notes that since 2010, the decline in uninsurance among adults ages 18-64 has been greatest among those who are poor or near-poor. It has been especially dramatic among Hispanic adults, whose uninsurance rate dropped from 40.6% in 2013 to 28.3% in the first three months of 2015.
The Affordable Care Act is succeeding in expanding access to health insurance, but its benefits are not evenly distributed. Since the Supreme Court decision that made it optional rather than required for states to expand Medicaid eligibility to those at or below 133% of the federal poverty level, 30 states and the District of Columbia have taken steps to adopt some form of Medicaid expansion. The report sums up the diverging experiences of the states that have and have not done so:
In Medicaid expansion states, the percentage of those uninsured decreased from 18.4% in 2013 to 10.6% in the first 3 months of 2015. In nonexpansion states, the percentage uninsured decreased from 22.7% in 2013 to 16.8% in the first 3 months of 2015.
When Medicaid was first created (50 years ago this summer), not all states were eager to adopt it. Arizona was the last state to do so, in 1982. As healthinsurance.org notes, though, Arizona was one of the first states with a Republican governor to sign on to the ACA’s Medicaid expansion. I hope it won’t take three decades for all the states to accept this Medicaid opportunity, which is helping reduce uninsurance among those who can least afford illnesses and injuries.