Print Friendly and PDFPrinter Friendly Version

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Census Report Shows That States That Expand Medicaid See Lower Uninsured Rates

Andrea Callow

Associate Director of Medicaid Initiatives

Last week, the U.S. Census Bureau released its report on health insurance in the United States in 2014. That report showed that nearly 9 million people gained health insurance in 2014. This is by far the largest single year reduction in the uninsured since the Census began collecting data on insurance status in 1987. Generally, states that expanded Medicaid in 2014 saw the greatest drop in the number of residents without health insurance.  

While other reports have shared similar findings, the Census report is widely seen as one of the most reliable and authoritative sources of data showing such a dramatic increase in the number of Americans with health coverage. There’s no question that the Affordable Care Act has a lot to do with this increase—2014 is the first year the Affordable Care Act’s new health insurance marketplaces provided health coverage. 

Data show the important role of Medicaid expansion in helping residents gain health coverage  

  • In 2014, states that expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act saw a 3.4 percentage point decline in their uninsured rate, about 1.5 times larger than the 2.3 percentage point decline in states that did not expand the program.
  • Six expansion states—including California, Kentucky, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, and West Virginia—all saw the number of uninsured residents drop around 5 percent or more. Kentucky saw the greatest reduction of any state, with a 5.8 percent drop in the uninsured rate. 
  • On average, 9.8 percent of people in the 25 states (including the District of Columbia) that had expanded Medicaid by January 2014 lacked health insurance that year, compared with 13.5 percent in the 26 non-expansion states. 

Health coverage is the first step toward physical, mental, and financial health 

These record increases in insurance mean millions more Americans will be able to access health care when they need it and benefit from the security of knowing that an unexpected illness or injury won’t financially devastate their family. 

For the individuals gaining coverage, this is a huge step toward health and financial security.  

For the states that have expanded coverage, the drop in the number of uninsured residents is only part of the picture. Many states that have expanded Medicaid are showing financial gains in addition to improved access to health services for their residents.