A Healthy Blog

Massachusetts health care — wonky, with a healthy dose of reality

We're Still Number One, as always - New Census Data on Uninsured

We're Still Number One, as always - New Census Data on Uninsured

September 13, 2016

We're number oneToday the federal Census Bureau released its annual statiscal report on “Income, Poverty and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2015” (link). This is their annual survey based on the Current Population Survey and the American Community Survey.

And so, it's time for our annual blog post (e.g, 2014, 2010, and 2009) on the continuing progress Massachusetts in making in expanding health coverage.

First, the encouraging national headlines:

  • Fewer uninsured: The percentage of people without health insurance coverage for the entire 2015 calendar year was 9.1 percent, down from 10.4 percent in 2014. The number of people without health insurance declined to 29.0 million from 33.0 million over the period.
  • Both private and public coverage: Between 2014 and 2015, the increase in the percentage of the population covered by health insurance was due to an increase in the rates of both private and government coverage. The rate of private coverage increased by 1.2 percentage points to 67.2 percent in 2015, and the government coverage rate increased by 0.6 percentage points to 37.1 percent.
  • Kids better, too: In 2015, the uninsured rate for children younger than age 19 was 5.3 percent, down from 6.2 percent in 2014.

The Massachusetts headlines: (based on this state table)

  • We’re number one: The 2015 uninsurance rate in Massachusetts went down to 2.8% - again, the best in the country. (second best is a tie between DC and VT, each at 3.8%). So our coverage rate is 97.2%
  • Continuing Improvement: The uninsurance rate continues to decline - it was 3.3% in 2014, and 3.7% in 2013, and 3.9% in 2012

More analysis (including great charts) are available from the Mass Budget and Policy Center.

We cannot be complacent about the continuing progress. Our state's success relies on the aggressive outreach and enrollment efforts, which should not be curtailed. We do hear frequent reports of considerable churn in enrollment, as people shift between various programs and private coverage. And there is a big challenge coming in next year, as MassHealth (which covers 1.8 million in the state), begins rolling out ACO options for most of its members.

                                                                                                                                                                         -- Brian Rosman