Pennsylvania uninsured rate 5.6 percent, a new low, state says

Affordable Care Act expands health coverage to more patients, although differences remain

The percent of people in the United States uninsured for the entire year fell from 9.1 percent (29 million) in 2015 to 8.8 percent (28.1 million) in 2016, with insurance coverage changing marginally for most forms of coverage.

"We have the Affordable Care Act to thank, in large part, for the important gains in Florida's rate of insured residents", Joseph F. Pennisi, director of the Florida Policy Institute said in a release.

The number of Americans without health insurance dropped to a record low in the final year of the Obama presidency, according to U.S. Census Bureau data released Tuesday. While the uninsured rate for children under the age of 19 stayed steady at 5.4%, the rate of children living in poverty without health insurance (7%) outpaced uninsured children not in poverty by two percentage points.

The number of people covered by Medicare grew by 0.4% from 2015 to 2016, while the percentage of people covered by other types of insurance remained essentially unchanged.

The number of uninsured has fallen from 42 million in 2013-before the ACA in 2014 allowed states to expand Medicaid, the federal-state program that provides coverage to low-income people, and provided federal subsidies to help lower- and middle-income Americans buy coverage on the insurance marketplaces.

The percentage of people lacking insurance coverage fell for most age groups under age 65, with generally larger decreases for working-age adults (although working-age adults are less likely to be covered than children or adults over age 65).

The law gives states the option of expanding Medicaid to low-income people.

Different organizations have come up with different estimates for the level of health insurance coverage in MA, but all agree that the state has been a leader in coverage. In the 30 states that have expanded, the census data showed the uninsured rate was lower than in non-Medicaid expansion states.

About 67.5% of those with insurance coverage were privately insured in 2016, while 37.3% were enrolled in government programs. Or that even without expansion, they or their children might already be eligible for Medicaid or CHIP. According to the data, 55.7% of people get insurance from their employers, while 19.4% are covered by Medicaid and 16.7% by Medicare.

Uninsured rates varied videly between states. White Americans continued to have the lowest uninsured rates by race, at just 6.3 percent. The number of uninsured dropped to 8.8 percent in 2016. During 2016, MA had the lowest uninsured rate at 2.5%, while Texas had the highest at 16.6%.

Shelby Livingston is an insurance reporter. Alaska and Texas were the only states with uninsured rates above 14%.

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