Uninsured Rate Drops, but Remains High

Jul 10, 2014

A lot more Floridians have health coverage compared to a year ago, but the state continues to have one of the nation’s highest uninsured rates, two new studies show.

An estimated 26 percent of working-age Floridians remain uninsured, according to a new Commonwealth Fund survey that looks at enrollment since the Affordable Care Act enrollment launched last October.

That's a big improvement from the 30 percent rate for that age group reported in 2013. However, Florida continues to join Texas as the states with the highest uninsured rates for adults 18 through 64.

Nationwide, Commonwealth estimates that 9.5 million Americans overall signed up for insurance in the last year, lowering the overall uninsured rate from 20 percent to 15 percent. That enrollment includes 1 million Floridians, according to a May report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The second study, from WalletHub.com, shows a similar decrease in Florida’s uninsured rate. Its Health Insurance Coverage report, which ranks 43 of the 50 states, found that Florida’s rate of uninsured residents 64 and younger decreased from about 25 percent to almost 19.6 percent.

In that report, Florida’s updated uninsured numbers rate better than only three states: Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas.

One interesting note: It found that Florida topped the nation in people signing up for new private insurance plans. Idaho, Montana, North Carolina and California filled out the topped five in that category.

Both studies aim to quantify the unknown and intensely political debate over the success of the Affordable Care Act, the online insurance marketplace and the expansion of Medicaid coverage in about half the states.

Florida and two dozen other states have opted not to expand the number of people eligible for Medicaid’s highly subsidized health care. Experts from both surveys point to the lack of national Medicaid expansion as a reason why the rate of insured Americans is not higher.

Still, between October and February, 245,000 Floridians signed up for Medicaid, despite the state’s decision to not increase eligibility to residents making 138 percent of the federal poverty level, Health and Human Services data show.

Commonwealth conducted a phone survey of more than 4,400 adults between 19 and 64 years-old nationwide. It included a sample of people who were potentially eligible for new coverage under the Affordable Care Act, and an oversample of adults in the six largest states, including Florida.

The WalletHub projection combines new Kaiser Family information with known numbers of Medicaid recipients and private plan enrollees who have signed up for plans in the Affordable Care Act’s first year.