New Census Data: 29,000 More Kentuckians Had Health Insurance in 2011

By Jason Bailey
September 20, 2012

New Census Data: 29,000 More Kentuckians Had Health Insurance in 2011

Affordable Care Act’s Coverage for Young Adults Contributing to this Trend

The share of Kentuckians without health insurance dropped last year, according to state Census Bureau figures released today. 14.4 percent of Kentuckians did not have health insurance coverage in 2011, a decrease from 15.3 percent in 2010.

“After years of falling health insurance coverage, we are seeing the trend reverse thanks to health care reform,” said Jason Bailey, director of the Kentucky Center for Economic Policy. “This underscores the urgent need for Kentucky to implement the rest of the Affordable Care Act, including the expansion of Medicaid to low-income Kentuckians.”

The Affordable Care Act contributed to the decline in uninsurance rates in Kentucky. Although much of the health reform law won’t be implemented until 2014, it now requires health insurance companies to allow people under the age of 26 to stay on their parents’ private health insurance plans, extending coverage to many Americans who otherwise would remain uninsured.

15,827 fewer 18 to 24 year olds in Kentucky were uninsured in 2011 than in 2010. The share of 18 to 24 year olds with private insurance rose from 55.7 percent in 2010 to 61.4 percent in 2011.

The positive impact of the Affordable Care Act’s young adult provision illustrates the critical importance of implementing the rest of the health care reform law.

Kentucky has an opportunity to continue to shrink the number of Kentuckians without health insurance by expanding Medicaid to additional low-income residents who can’t get health insurance through their jobs and can’t afford to purchase it in the private market. The federal government will pay for the vast majority of the cost of expanding Kentucky’s Medicaid program.

“We have the chance to help those who can’t afford health insurance receive the care they need at very little cost to the state and to boost Kentucky’s economy at the same time. It would be a mistake to let this opportunity pass,” said Bailey.

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The Kentucky Center for Economic Policy is a non-profit, non-partisan initiative that conducts research, analysis and education on important policy issues facing the Commonwealth. Launched in 2011, the Center is a project of the Mountain Association for Community Economic Development (MACED). 

Note: Figure on increase in number of insured was revised from 32,000 in the original press release to 29,000. The precise estimate provided by the new Census American Community Survey data is an increase of 28,583 from 2010 to 2011.