Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Largely rural states continue to see decline in uninsured; Wyoming only U.S. state to see increase

Arkansas and Kentucky—two largely rural states that expanded Medicaid under federal health reform—continue to have the largest drops in the number of uninsured residents since the Affordable Care Act, according to a Gallup poll released this week. Rhode Island surpassed Massachusetts in having the lowest overall rate of uninsured residents. Wyoming was the only state to see an increase in the number of uninsured from the beginning of 2013 through the first six months of 2015, from 16.6 percent to 18.2 percent.

Arkansas, which expanded Medicaid under a Democratic governor—current Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson has said he wants to end it—ranked 49th in 2013 with 22.5 percent of residents uninsured but is now 21st with only 9.1 percent of residents uninsured, a drop of 13.4 percent. Kentucky, which has a Democratic governor but typically votes Republican in presidential elections, was ranked 40th in 2013 with 20.4 percent uninsured. Through the first half of 2015, Kentucky's uninsured rate is now 9 percent, 20th best. The overall drop of 11.4 percent is second only to Arkansas.

Oregon had the third biggest drop from the beginning of  2013 through the first half of 2015, from 19.4 percent to 8.8 percent. Rhode Island dropped from 13.3 percent to 2.7 percent, Washington from 16.8 percent to 6.4 percent, California from 21.6 percent to 11.8 percent and West Virginia from 17.6 percent to 8.8 percent. All those states expanded Medicaid under Obamacare.

Rhode Island's big drop gave it the nation's lowest rate of uninsured. Massachusetts is second at 3 percent, followed by Minnesota and Vermont, 4.6 percent; Iowa and Connecticut, 5 percent; Hawaii, 5.2 percent; Wisconsin, 5.6 percent; Ohio, 6.1 percent; Washington, 6.4 percent and North Dakota, 6.9 percent.

States with large rural populations that chose not to expand Medicaid had the highest number of uninsured in 2014. Texas led the way with 20.8 percent of residents uninsured. Wyoming was second at 18.2 percent, following by Oklahoma, 17.7 percent; Louisiana, 16.3 percent, Iowa, 16.2 percent; Georgia, 15.3 percent; Florida and Nevada, 15.2 percent; North Carolina, 14.7 percent; Arizona, 14.5 percent; Montana, 14.4 percent; and Mississippi, 14.2 percent. (Read more)

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