Eleven percent of Ohio adults younger than 65 lacked health coverage this year, a sharp drop from 17 percent last year and the lowest rate since the Ohio Health Issues Poll began in 2006. But it’s still unclear how much of the credit for that change goes to an improving economy and how much goes to the Affordable Care Act.
That law authorized an expansion of Ohio’s Medicaid program and created Ohio’s federally run health-insurance marketplace, through which residents can buy private health coverage that in many cases is subsidized.
All are thought to be reasons for the lower rate of uninsured Ohioans.
“Those are things we’ll be able to figure out over time,” said Jennifer Chubinski, director of community research for Interact for Health, which paid $22,000 for the study. “We’re just coming to terms with this massive policy change in Ohio.”
In 2006, before the recession, the percentage of Ohio adults younger than 65 who lacked health coverage was 12 percent, but it hovered from 17 to 19 percent between 2007 and 2013.
The poll suggests that further outreach is needed to lower-income Ohioans who remain uninsured, said Amy Rohling McGee, president of the Health Policy Institute of Ohio.
Among Ohioans whose income is 138 percent or less of the federal poverty rate — people who are eligible for Medicaid coverage in Ohio — the uninsured rate was 19.1 percent, according to the poll.
And the uninsured rate was 25.6 percent for Ohioans whose income is between 138 percent and 200 percent of the federal poverty rate. Those people qualify not only for tax credits but for additional cost-sharing assistance through the federal government’s health-insurance marketplace.
“This may indicate that people with very limited incomes are not aware of the financial help available to purchase private insurance or that they still find these options to be unaffordable,” McGee said in a statement.
The federal poverty rate is currently $11,670 for a one-person household.
Among the poll’s other findings:
• 10 percent of Ohio adults who bought health coverage on their own credited the Affordable Care Act for that coverage.
• Uninsured rates are three times higher for men than for women (16.6 percent versus
5.5 percent), a difference Chubinski said she found surprising.
• 22.5 percent of African-American respondents were uninsured, a disparity that is in keeping with other research but has a significant margin of error in the Ohio Health Issues Poll.
• 67 percent of people who perceived their own health as fair or poor had health coverage, compared with 86.5 percent who considered their health to be excellent or very good.
The health-issues poll reflects responses from 820 randomly chosen Ohio adults contacted in May by the University of Cincinnati’s Institute for Policy Research. In 95 of 100 cases, the statewide estimates are expected to be accurate within a margin of plus or minus 3.4 percentage points.
The Health Policy Institute of Ohio receives funding from the nonprofit Interact for Health, formerly known as the Health Foundation of Greater Cincinnati.
By Ben Sutherly - The Columbus Dispatch, Ohio (MCT)
©2014 The Columbus Dispatch (Columbus, Ohio)
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