Ky. neck-and-neck with Ark. for largest drop in percentage of uninsured; Kynect and Medicaid expansion make the difference

By Melissa Patrick
Kentucky Health News

Kentucky is finally near the top of a good list about health. It’s neck-and-neck with Arkansas for the greatest drop in the percentage of uninsured adults since the federal health-care reform law’s requirement to have insurance took effect in January, according to a recent Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index poll.

Kentucky decreased its estimated share of uninsured by 8.5 percentage points between 2013 and midyear 2014, going from 20.4 percent in 2013 to 11.9 percent now. That was a 42 percent drop in the percentage of the state population that is uninsured. Arkansas’ percentage-point drop was larger, but the results were within the polls’ error margins.

Ky. error margins: 2013, plus/minus 1.8 percentage pts.; 2014, +/- 2.1 pts. Ark.: +/- 2.2 and +/- 2.4.

The poll found that states that expanded Medicaid and established a state-based marketplace or a state-federal partnerships showed the largest drop in the uninsured. Kentucky has participated in both of these measures with Kynect, its statewide health insurance marketplace, and its expansion of Medicaid to households with annual incomes up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level.

County-by-county estimates on Kynect Medicaid and private insurance through Kynect are at

The gap between states that implemented these measures and those that did not nearly doubled between 2013 and midyear 2014, with the uninsured rate declining an average of 4 points in the 21 states that have implemented both measures, compared with a 2.2-point drop in the 29 states that have implemented one or neither.

The latest state figures show that 512,000 Kentuckians are newly enrolled in health coverage, with nearly three out of four of them under the Medicaid expansion.

Medicaid Commissioner Lawrence Kissner illustrated the dramatic impact of the expansion in Kentucky at a recent legislative committee meeting with county-by-county maps that show the estimated percentage of uninsured in each county in 2012 and this year.

The national poll results are based on both cellular and land-line telephone interviews of a random sample of 178,000 adults living in all 50 U.S. states during 2013, and 88,678 respondents between Jan. 2 and June 30, 2014.

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