Economic upturn boosts share of Kentuckians on employer-based health coverage; health reform boosts number on public plans

Half of Kentucky’s working-age adults now get health insurance through their employers, up from 37 percent two years ago, reversing a downward trend that began with the Great Recession.

Meanwhile, under federal health reform, many more Kentuckians are on public insurance, mostly Medicaid, and many fewer report being uninsured. Those are among the findings in the latest Kentucky Health Issues Poll, taken Oct. 8 through Nov. 6.

In 2008, when the recession began, 55 percent of Kentuckians reported that they got insurance through their employer. That dropped to 44 percent in 2009 and declined to 37 percent in 2012. But the number rose to 44 percent in 2013, and to 50 percent last fall.

The expansion of Medicaid under federal health reform has greatly boosted the share of Kentuckians on public health insurance, to 29 percent. The number had risen from 11 percent to 27 percent between 2008 and 2012, then dropped to 20 percent in 2013.

Medicaid has been expanded to households with annual income up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level. In the poll, only 12 percent of people with such incomes said they were uninsured, down from 34 percent in 2013.

In the entire population, the percentage of uninsured is the same, showing the impact of Medicaid expansion. Overall, 12 percent in the latest poll reported being uninsured, and another 12 percent said they were insured but had been without health insurance at some point in the previous 12 months.

“This report gives us a snapshot of the changing health insurance situation for Kentucky adults,” ssaid Susan Zepeda, President/CEO of the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky, which sponsored the poll with Interact for Health, formerly the Health Foundation of Greater Cincinnati. “Having health insurance is an important factor in having access to affordable, quality health care.”

Because 97 percent of seniors have Medicare or some other form of health coverage, the questions were asked only of working-age adults, ages 18 to 64. A random sample of 1,597 adults all over Kentucky was interviewed by telephone, including landlines and cell phones. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 2,5 percentage points.

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