TOPEKA, KS. – The U.S. Census Bureau today released its latest estimates of health insurance coverage. The data showed a significant drop in the uninsurance rate—in Kansas and in every other state—after the first full year of implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
The American Community Survey (ACS) estimated:
In 2014, which is the latest year for which these data are available, 10.2 percent of Kansans did not have health insurance coverage. This rate is significantly lower than the 2013 uninsured rate of 12.3 percent, indicating approximately 57,000 fewer Kansans were uninsured in 2014.
There was also a significant drop in the national uninsured rate. In 2014, 11.7 percent of Americans did not have health insurance coverage, significantly lower than the 2013 uninsured rate of 14.5 percent. This equates to approximately 8.5 million fewer uninsured Americans in 2014.
After remaining relatively flat for the last several years, the uninsured rates in both Kansas and the U.S. dropped significantly during the first full year of the major insurance expansion provisions of the ACA. (see figure above)
Under the ACA, in January 2014 individuals and families were able to purchase health insurance through state and federal marketplaces. At that time, Americans with incomes between 100 and 400 percent of the federal poverty level became eligible to receive premium tax credits to help them afford insurance coverage through those marketplaces.
In addition to the insurance marketplaces, Medicaid expansion was the other major strategy of the ACA to decrease the number of uninsured Americans. The ACS data showed a significant difference in the reduction in the uninsured rates between states that have and have not expanded their Medicaid programs.
States that expanded Medicaid: Average decrease in the uninsured rate was 3.4 percentage points.
States that did not expand Medicaid (including Kansas): Average decrease in the uninsured rate was 2.3 percentage points.
“There has been a lot of speculation about the success of the ACA,” said Robert St. Peter, M.D., president and CEO of the Kansas Health Institute. “The fact that the uninsured rate decreased significantly in every state in the country during the first full year of implementation suggests that it has been successful in at least one respect – it has reduced the number of uninsured Americans. However, now that more people are covered with insurance, it will be important to see how well that insurance protects them from financial hardship and helps them get the medical care they need.”
This week, the U.S. Census Bureau released another data set that also measures health insurance coverage — the Current Population Survey (CPS). The CPS asks insurance coverage questions in a slightly different way than the ACS, but the findings were similar. KHI uses ACS data instead of CPS data as its primary source for health insurance estimates because the ACS has a larger sample size in Kansas and can provide reliable, single-year estimates of health insurance coverage. In addition, the ACS data set provides detail at county and regional levels. KHI will soon release more detailed information about the different types of coverage purchased in 2014 and about the demographics of Kansans who remain uninsured.
The Kansas Health Institute (KHI) delivers objective information, conducts credible research, and supports civil dialogue enabling policy leaders to make informed health policy decisions that enhance their effectiveness as champions for a healthier Kansas. Established in 1995 with a multiyear grant from the Kansas Health Foundation, KHI is a nonprofit, nonpartisan educational organization based in Topeka.