Thursday, September 17, 2015

Affordable Care Act helps lower state uninsured rate to lowest since 1987

The latest figures from a highly respected national research organization support what backers of the Affordable Care Act said all along – expanding health care coverage would lower the rate of uninsured in the nation and in Washington state.

Two reports came out this week, both from the U.S. Census Bureau.

The first, the Current Population Survey, showed the percentage of uninsured in Washington dropped 317,000 in 2014. This survey reported that roughly 643,000 state residents remained without coverage.

That represents a decline in the overall percentage of uninsured residents from 14 percent in 2013 to 9.2 percent in 2014. And the 2014 figure is even better than the 16 percent of residents without coverage in 2012, according to the Census Bureau.

A second report, the American Community Survey, showed pretty much the same numbers as the Current Population Survey.

The American Community Survey is considered the gold standard among such data reporting because it delves into more detail about health insurance coverage.

Both reports show the lowest rate of uninsured state residents since the Census Bureau began its tracking in 1987.

Much of the success, according to the reports, is due to Washington’s expansion of Medicaid, the health care program that serves lower-income residents, called Apple Health in our state.

Washington was among the 28 states that expanded Medicaid when given the opportunity. The latest reports show that states that took this option have achieved greater success in lowering the rate of uninsured compared to those that rejected expansion.

Nationally, about 9 million citizens have gained coverage since the Affordable Care Act took effect.

The latest figures also match closely with what the Office of the Insurance Commissioner has reported on regarding the uninsured in Washington. An updated report by the OIC is due in November.