September 24, 2012
WASHINGTON (The New York Times News Service) -- The percentage of people without health insurance fell in 20 states last year with Oregon, Rhode Island and Vermont seeing the biggest declines, according to an analysis of Census Bureau data released this week.
Two states had a statistically significant increase in the uninsured rate, Missouri and Montana. Missouri's uninsured rate jumped from 13.2 percent in 2010 to 13.7 percent last year, and Montana's rate went from 17.3 percent up to 18.3 percent, according to the analysis by the University of Minnesota's State Health Access Data Assistance Center.
The latest data come a week after the Census Bureau reported that nationally the percent of uninsured dropped in 2011, its first drop since 2007 and largest decline since 1999. That closely watched report found that 48.6 million Americans were uninsured for all of 2011 compared to 49.9 million in 2010. Health policy experts attributed the decline to more people enrolled in government programs such as Medicaid, the state-federal health insurance program for the poor; and the finding that the percentage of people with private coverage did not decline for the first time in a decade.
The data released Thursday were based on the American Community Survey, a survey of more than 200,000 people, and the margin of error in the survey varied by state because of different sample sizes in each state. The margin of error in the surveys helped determine whether the change in a state's uninsured rate from 2010 to 2011 was statistically significant.
The biggest drop in the uninsured was among people age 19 to 25, which is attributed to President Obama's health law provision that allows families to keep adult children on their health plans until age 26. The Obama administration said about 3 million people have gained coverage from this provision.
A related Census report found that the uninsured rate of young adults (age 19 to 25) dropped from 31.7 percent in 2009 to 28.2 percent in 2011, while the rate for those 26 to 29 continued to increase, from 28.9 percent to 29.7 percent. The report found Vermont had the biggest drop in uninsured young adults, as the rate fell from 24.8 percent in 2009 to 10.9 percent in 2011.
Among states with highest uninsured rates, Texas saw its rate drop slightly from 23.7 percent in 2010 to 23 percent in 2011 and Florida's rate fell from 21.3 percent to 20.9 percent.
California, the state with highest number of uninsured, saw its rate drop from 18.5 percent to 18.1 percent.
The other states that had a statistically significant drop in uninsured last year were Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, South Carolina, Virginia and Wisconsin.
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