The release of new U.S. Census Bureau data confirms Kentucky’s decision to expand Medicaid is drastically lowering the number of uninsured in the Commonwealth, leading the nation with the highest percentage point decline in the share of uninsured.
According to the Census, 250,000 more Kentuckians had health insurance coverage in 2014 than in 2013. The state’s uninsurance rate in 2014 was just 8.5 percent, down from 14.3 percent in 2013. This 5.8 percentage point drop is the biggest in the country (Nevada’s is 5.5 percent and West Virginia’s is 5.4 percent, although the difference between the change in uninsurance rates in Kentucky and these states isn’t statistically significant). States that have expanded Medicaid – like Kentucky – to include more people who otherwise couldn’t afford health insurance collectively had a lower uninsurance rate than states that did not expand Medicaid and that gap is growing.
“This data confirms Medicaid expansion and Kynect are commonsense solutions for helping Kentuckians be healthy and more productive members of their communities,” Ashley Spalding, research and policy associate at the Kentucky Center for Economic Policy, said. “We already knew Kentucky was seeing huge benefits from those solutions, but the country’s official data on health insurance rates reaffirms the impact.”
The new Census data substantiates other findings from a Gallup poll and National Health Interview Survey released earlier this year that showed Kentucky’s dramatic drop in uninsurance rates between 2013 and 2014.
For states that decided to expand Medicaid eligibility through the Affordable Care Act, the federal government pays all the costs of providing coverage to people making up to just $32,500 per year for a family of four (138 percent of the federal poverty line) through 2016 and then no less than 90 percent of the costs thereafter. So far more than 400,000 Kentuckians have enrolled in Medicaid through the expansion.
Kentucky is beginning to reap the rewards of its decision to expand Medicaid. The state has reported large numbers of Medicaid participants utilizing preventive care services, which are expected to improve health and reduce costs to the state in the long term. In addition, an independent study by Deloitte and the University of Louisville’s Urban Studies Institute show expansion is creating jobs and is expected to have a cumulative economic impact of $30.1 billion by 2021.
“While the state is already seeing the positive impact of the Medicaid expansion, as more low-income Kentuckians have health coverage and can seek care, the long-term benefits are still to come as our state becomes healthier and more productive,” Spalding said.
For more information contact Kenny Colston at firstname.lastname@example.org.