KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

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Americans Aging Into Medicare Helps Uninsured Rate Drop To 8.8%

The Census Bureau says there were no statistically significant year-over-year changes for any other kinds of health insurance. Media outlets break down what the numbers mean in the states as well.

The Wall Street Journal: Uninsured Rate Fell In 2016 As More People Aged Into Medicare
The share of people in the U.S. who lacked health insurance for the whole of 2016 declined to 8.8%, the Census Bureau said Tuesday, down from 9.1% the previous year, largely due to Americans aging into the federal Medicare program for people 65 and older. The rate reflects around 28.1 million people without health coverage, a decrease from 29 million a year earlier, hitting a new low that has also been reflected in other government and private surveys. (Radnofsky, 9/12)

Kaiser Health News: Uninsured Rate Falls To A Record Low Of 8.8 Percent
Three years after the Affordable Care Act’s coverage expansion took effect, the number of Americans without health insurance fell to 28.1 million in 2016, down from 29 million in 2015, according to a federal report released Tuesday. The latest numbers from the U.S. Census Bureau showed the nation’s uninsured rate dropped to 8.8 percent. It had been 9.1 percent in 2015. Both the overall number of uninsured and the percentage are record lows. (Galewitz, 9/12)

Boston Globe: Number Of Uninsured In Mass. Continues To Fall
The percentage of Massachusetts residents without health insurance fell again last year, to a new low of 2.5 percent, the US Census Bureau said Tuesday. That’s down from 2.8 percent of Massachusetts residents who went without health insurance in 2015, and 3.7 percent who were uninsured in 2013. (Dayal McCluskey, 9/12)

Chicago Tribune: Illinois Uninsured Rate Falls Again — But For How Long? 
The number of people in Illinois without health insurance has dropped again — though some worry that trend is about to reverse amid uncertainty over the future of Obamacare. About 6.5 percent of Illinois residents — or about 817,000 people — were uninsured in 2016, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. That's a drop from the year before, when about 900,000 residents lacked insurance. It's also a big dip from 2013, before many provisions of the Affordable Care Act took effect, when 1.6 million people were uninsured. (Schencker, 9/12)

Texas Tribune: Census Report Finds 4.5 Million Texans Are Still Uninsured
A new United States Census Bureau report shows the percentage of uninsured Texans dropped from 22.1 percent in 2013 to 16.6 percent in 2016. Despite the drop, Texas still reported the highest uninsured rate of all 50 states — and almost double the national uninsured rate of 8.8 percent. (Arriaga, 9/12)

Dallas Morning News: One In Every Six Texans Had No Health Insurance In 2016, Census Data Show
Texas still has the highest rate of people lacking health insurance in the country, but overall, rates in the state and across the nation have been on the decline, new Census data show. ... At 16.6 percent, about one in every six Lone Star State residents did not have health coverage in 2016, the American Community Survey data released Tuesday found. Texas and Alaska were the only two states that had rates that were over 14 percent of their populations. (Rice, 9/12)

Houston Chronicle: Texas' Drop In Uninsured Rate Might Not Last
The U.S. Census Bureau reported Tuesday that the rate of uninsured in Texas fell to 16.6 percent last year, down from 22.1 percent in 2013 when the Affordable Care Act's individual market plans first became available. ... "We were finally gaining traction," said Elena Marks, president and CEO of Houston's Episcopal Health Foundation, which focuses on health policy and access to care for the poor and uninsured. She characterized the Census figures as "real and consistent improvement year after year - something that had not previously happened in Texas for a very long time." Still, she worried about the toll from the divisive politics that surrounds all things about the health-care law. (Deam, 9/12)

KCUR: Kansas Uninsured Rate Inches Down While Those In Medicaid Expansion States Plummet 
The uninsured rates in Kansas and Missouri continue to drop, but not as fast as those in states that have expanded their Medicaid programs. New numbers from the U.S. Census Bureau show the uninsured rate in Kansas dropped to 8.7 percent in 2016 from 9.1 percent the year before. That is not a statistically significant change. Approximately 249,000 Kansans lacked health coverage in 2016, down from about 261,000 the previous year. (McLean, 9/12)

Bangor (Maine) Daily News: As Nation’s Uninsured Rate Drops, Maine’s Holds Steady
The number of Mainers without health insurance held steady in 2016, as the national uninsured rate fell to a record low, according to new U.S. Census data. Eight percent of Maine residents, or 106,000 people, lacked health insurance last year, the Census report released Tuesday shows. That’s down slightly from 8.4 percent in 2015, though within the report’s margin of error. (Farwell, 9/12)

Charleston (S.C.) Post and Courier: New Census Numbers Show Uninsured Rate Dropped Significantly In South Carolina
Even though South Carolina leaders chose not to expand eligibility for the low-income Medicaid program under the Affordable Care Act, the uninsured rate in the state still dropped significantly between 2013 and 2016, new census numbers show. In 2013, before coverage was available to purchase through the federal health insurance marketplace, the uninsured rate in South Carolina was 15.8 percent. By 2016, it had dropped to 10 percent. (Sasser, 9/12)

Winston-Salem (N.C.) Journal: Rate Of Uninsured North Carolinians Reaches Historic Low In 2016
North Carolina experienced another drop in the number of individuals without health insurance to a record low of 10.4 percent in 2016, according to data released Tuesday by the U.S. Census Bureau. However, the rate could be significantly lower if the Republican-controlled General Assembly approved expanding Medicaid coverage to more than 500,000 of the 1.04 million North Carolinians who still lack health insurance. (Craver, 9/12)

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