Uninsured Rates Fall in States Expanding Medicaid

TimStates that take advantage of new federal money available to extend Medicaid coverage to more residents are seeing substantial declines in uninsured rates this year. It makes sense. Greater Medicaid eligibility increases health coverage, and updated numbers from 2014 provide yet more compelling evidence that Georgia’s failure to expand Medicaid keeps the state’s uninsured rate unnecessarily high.

States that expand Medicaid are realizing a 5 to 6 percentage-point decline in the uninsured rate during the first six months of 2014, according to new data released by the Washington, D.C.-based Urban Institute. On the other hand, states not expanding Medicaid eligibility experienced an uninsured rate drop of barely 2 points. That means expansion states now boast collective uninsured rates 8 percentage points below peer states now sitting out Medicaid expansion.

This graphic from the Health Reform Monitoring Survey provides striking visual tracking of the trend.

The figures are well in line with enrollment forecasts over the last two years. This state’s official forecast predicts more than 500,000 newly eligible Georgians would enroll in Medicaid if the state expanded income eligibility. That would likely reduce Georgia’s uninsured population by about one-third. Georgia is already realizing coverage gains from people who enroll in private insurance plans through the new federal health insurance marketplace and increased Medicaid enrollment among people eligible under existing rules. So expanding Medicaid in 2015 could boost coverage gains among Georgians to produce the same positive results it’s delivering in 26 other states and the District of Columbia.

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