Kentucky had the largest decrease, from 2013 to 2014, in percentage of residents without health insurance

By Melissa Patrick
Kentucky Health News

Kentucky led the nation in the largest drop in the percentage of residents without health insurance from 2013 to 2014, according to a report released Sept. 16 by the U.S. Census Bureau.

The percentage of uninsured Kentuckians dropped to 8.5 percent in 2014 from 14.3 percent in 2013. The drop of 5.8 percentage points was double the national decrease of 2.9 percent. The report says 366,000 Kentuckians were uninsured in 2014, down 250,000 from 616,000 in 2013.

“The information from the U.S. Census Bureau is yet another independent, unbiased confirmation that Kentucky is on the path to make transformational changes in the lives and health of our commonwealth and the hundreds of thousands of Kentuckians who have qualified for health care coverage through Kynect since Jan. 1, 2014,” said Gov. Steve Beshear, who created the state health-insurance exchange where Kentuckians enroll in Medicaid or private insurance subsidized by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

This report confirms other public and private surveys that have shown a significant decrease in the number of Kentuckians without insurance since implementation of the ACA, which took full effect Jan. 1, 2014. The survey results differ slightly due to methodology.

The Gallup Organization reported in August that Kentucky’s uninsured rate dropped to 9 percent during the first half of 2015, compared to 20.4 percent in 2013.

The surveys show that states that expanded Medicaid eligibility, to people in households with incomes up to 138 percent of the federal poverty line, saw the greatest reductions of their uninsured populations. In Kentucky the expansion covers about 400,000 people.

Census data show that the Fifth Congressional District, Kentucky’s poorest, had the greatest drop in uninsured residents, going from 17.1 percent to 8.4 percent. Other decreases by district, according to Ron Crouch of the Kentucky Education and Workforce Development Cabinet: First, 15.9 to 9.3 percent; Second, 13 to 8.2 percent; Third, 13.4 to 7.8 percent; Fourth, 12.4 to 7.9 percent; Sixth, 14.1 to 9.2 percent.

“This is important to not just for making the population and workforce healthier with access
to health care insurance but also the potential to create jobs across Kentucky,
needed additional training and education for many of those jobs creating higher
pay, and new tax revenue to pay for Kynect and Medicaid expansion as well as
other needs in Kentucky,” said Crouch, the cabinet’s director of research and statistics.

The figures are based on continuing Census surveys, which do not provide enough data for reilable estimates in most counties. Last year, the state gave rough estimates for the uninsured population in each county:

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