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Uninsured Rates Across Kansas Counties (September 2020)

By Phillip Steiner, M.A., Wen-Chieh Lin, Ph.D. | September 04, 2020

Uninsured Rates Across Kansas Counties (September 2020)

In 2018, uninsured rates in Kansas varied widely by county, region and population density. Understanding the health insurance landscape in Kansas prior to COVID-19 could help policymakers as they work to mitigate the health and economic consequences of the pandemic.

To shed light on variations in insurance coverage, the Kansas Health Institute has produced a series of fact sheets which examines the most recent county-level health insurance estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau. The data show that less-densely populated counties in Western Kansas generally had the highest uninsured rates in 2018, but the most populous counties, which tend to be in Northeast Kansas, had the highest numbers of uninsured Kansans.

Recognizing the differences between areas with higher rates and higher numbers of uninsured Kansans can help policymakers design distinct approaches to improving health insurance coverage across the state. For example, activities that can reach many uninsured Kansans in larger population centers might not be as effective in Western Kansas counties, which tend to have higher uninsured rates.

Key points include:

  • Frontier counties, those with fewer than six persons per square mile, on average had the highest uninsured rate for Kansans age 0-64 (12.9 percent), while the lowest rate was in Semi-Urban counties (9.1 percent).
  • The 21 counties with the highest uninsured rates (8.4 to 14.3 percent) among children age 0-18 were all located in the Western half of the state; however, the five most populous counties — Douglas, Johnson, Sedgwick, Shawnee and Wyandotte — accounted for more than half (52.0 percent, or 18,872) of uninsured children in 2018.
  • Counties with the highest uninsured rates for adults age 19-64 tended to be in Southwest Kansas.
  • Among adults potentially eligible for Medicaid if expanded, counties in Southwest Kansas had the highest uninsured rate; however, more than half of uninsured, potentially eligible adults lived in one of the five most populous counties in Kansas.

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The Kansas Health Institute supports effective policymaking through nonpartisan research, education and engagement. KHI believes evidence-based information, objective analysis and civil dialogue enable policy leaders to be 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.