595,000 Kentuckians, or 13.9 percent of the state’s population, had no health insurance in 2012, according to data released today by the Census Bureau. But the new data also show that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is already increasing coverage for young adults. And starting next year, two major provisions of the ACA will dramatically reduce the number of uninsured Kentuckians.
The percentage of Kentuckians ages 18-24 that are uninsured has fallen from 32.5 percent in 2010 to 25.8 percent in 2012. That improvement can be attributed to a measure in the ACA that allows those under the age of 26 to stay on their parents’ private health insurance plans. The share of Kentuckians 18-24 with private insurance jumped from 55.7 percent in 2010 to 62.5 percent in 2012. The provision has been especially important of late, when unemployment rates among young Kentuckians remain high.
And much bigger improvements in coverage are coming soon. 308,000 Kentuckians are expected to gain health insurance through the state’s acceptance of federal funds to expand Medicaid. Kentucky is one of 25 states so far that have decided to expand Medicaid.
Also, starting on October 1, Kentuckians who can’t get affordable health insurance through their jobs but earn too much to qualify for Medicaid can sign up for coverage for 2014 through the state’s new health insurance marketplace, known as Kynect. More than four out of five people will be eligible for new federal subsidies to help them pay their premiums through the exchange and reduce their out-of-pocket health costs. An estimated 332,000 Kentuckians will be able to access coverage through the marketplace.
Today’s Census data provides detail on Kentucky’s uninsured. While 13.2 percent of white Kentuckians are uninsured, 17.4 percent of African Americans and 32.9 percent of Latinos in Kentucky lack coverage. 20.6 percent of those Kentuckians with less than a high school degree lack health insurance, but only 5.1 percent of those with a bachelor’s degree or higher.
Health insurance is essential to Kentuckians’ economic security. An illness or accident can push uninsured individuals and their families—who are already affected by the state’s high unemployment and stagnating wages—deeper into poverty.
Health reform means that many more Kentucky families will have the security and peace of mind that comes with quality, affordable health insurance. That’s good for our state’s families, businesses, communities, and economy.