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Kansas And Missouri Lag In Reducing Numbers of Uninsured

Both Kansas and Missouri are underperforming when it comes to reducing the number of uninsured within their borders.

From 2013 to 2014, all 50 states recorded statistically significant reductions in their uninsured rates, mostly because of the implementation of key provisions of the Affordable Care Act, according to new data from the U.S. Census Bureau.

But most states saw bigger reductions than those posted in Kansas and Missouri.

The drop in Missouri’s rate, from 13 percent to 11.7 percent, represents an overall reduction of only 10 percent. That was better than only Alaska’s 7 percent reduction.

Kansas performed better, dropping its rate from 12.3 percent to 10.2 percent, an overall reduction of 17 percent. But it also lagged far behind the best performing states.

Kentucky led the nation, dropping its uninsured rate a whopping 41 percent, followed by West Virginia, 39 percent, and Rhode Island, 36 percent. Oregon and Washington rounded out the top five with reductions of 34 percent each.

All of the top five performing states expanded their Medicaid programs to cover non-disabled adults earning up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level —$16,105 annually for an individual and $32,913 for a family of four. In addition, three of the five — Kentucky, Oregon and Washington — established their own online health insurance marketplaces.

“A review of the uninsured rates across all 50 states shows that those states that opted to expand Medicaid and/or ran their own marketplace (or worked with the federal government on marketplace planning) saw the greatest decreases in the uninsured,” according to an analysis done by the National Academy for State Health Policy.

Neither Kansas nor Missouri expanded Medicaid or established its own marketplaces.

Still, the drop in Kansas’ rate meant that at least 57,000 fewer Kansans under age 65 were uninsured in 2014 compared with 2013, according to an analysis done by the Kansas Health Institute.

Nationally, the number of uninsured Americans dropped by approximately 8.8 million.

“There has been a lot of speculation about the success of the ACA,” said Robert St. Peter, M.D., KHI’s president and CEO. “The fact that the uninsured rate decreased significantly in every state in the country during the first full year of implementation suggests that it has been successful in at least one respect: It has reduced the number of uninsured Americans. However, now that more people are covered with insurance, it will be important to see how well that insurance protects them from financial hardship and helps them get the medical care they need.”

Editor's note: KHI News Service, a partner in Heartland Health Monitor, is affiliated with but editorially independent of the Kansas Health Institute.

Jim McLean is executive editor of KHI News Service in Topeka, a partner in the Heartland Health Monitor team.

Jim McLean is a political correspondent for the Kansas News Service, a collaboration based at KCUR with other public media stations across Kansas. You can email him at jim@kcur.org.
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