Study: Affordable Care Act dropped uninsured rates in Pa. to 6.5% |

Study: Affordable Care Act dropped uninsured rates in Pa. to 6.5%

Nicole C. Brambila

A new report shows the number of uninsured people in Pennsylvania declined by more than 5 percentage points under the health care reform of the Affordable Care Act.

Conducted by the Urban Institute, the research examined national uninsured rates from 2013 through 2017, using U.S. Census Bureau data.

Among the key findings:

• The states with the largest uninsured changes — those that declined by 10 percentage points or more — did so because of higher uninsured rates to begin with. States like Kentucky, Nevada and New Mexico saw their uninsured rates significantly drop (-10.5%, -10.7% and -11.8% respectfully).

• States with smaller gains — such as Pennsylvania, which dropped from an uninsured rate of 11.9% in 2013 to 6.5% in 2017 — had moderate coverage rates before Congress passed Obamacare in 2010.

States that expanded Medicaid eligibility also saw larger gains to the insured rolls.

Pennsylvania, these researchers said, also benefited from higher per capita income and a higher rate of employer-sponsored health insurance.

“When you get in the 5 to 6% uninsured rate range among nonelderly, it gets harder to get to zero,” said John Holahan, the lead researcher. “You get to the point where there’s just a group of people that are just hard to get without a mandate.”

Those chiefly include the young and healthy.

The results contrast sharply with new Census Bureau data showing the number of uninsured rose by 1.9 million in 2018, the first increase in a decade. An estimated 27.5 million people, or 8.5% of the U.S. population, lacked health insurance last year. Latinos accounted for the largest coverage declines, leading experts to believe the rise is linked to immigrant fears.

Holahan noted that whites do have lower participation rates in the insurance marketplace than racial minorities. He also said, given the dissimilarities between Pennsylvania’s population centers in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh and the rest of the state, that differences in urban and rural participation rates likely exist as well.

“I wouldn’t be surprised in Pennsylvania if the uninsured rates are better in the big cities than the big middle of Pennsylvania,” Holahan said.

To read the full report, click here.

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