Number of Uninsured in Calif. Fell Nearly 27% in 2014, Census Data Show
California was among the six states with the largest drops in uninsured rates last year, according to a Census Bureau report released Wednesday, the Sacramento Bee reports (Buck, Sacramento Bee, 9/16).
The report is the first of its kind to be released since the Affordable Care Act's coverage expansions took effect (Goldstein et al., "Wonkblog," Washington Post, 9/16).
According to Bloomberg Business, the report is considered to be "the gold standard" of data on uninsured rates (Mittelman, Bloomberg Business, 9/16).
Overall, the Census Bureau data show that the number of U.S. residents who were uninsured for the entire calendar year fell from 41.8 million in 2013 to 33 million in 2014, reflecting a decline in the uninsured rate from 13.3% to 10.4% (Census Bureau release, 9/16).
- The percentage of individuals with private health insurance at some point during the year increased from 64.1% in 2013 to 66% last year; and
- The percentage of individuals with public health insurance at some point during the year increased from 34.6% to 36.5% (Bloomberg Business, 9/16).
Researchers also found that the insurance rate increased by about 4% for Asians, blacks, and Hispanics, and by 2.1% for non-Hispanic whites.
Officials said that much of the decline in the country's uninsured rate could be attributed to the ACA, according to the New York Times (Pear, New York Times, 9/16).
In California, the number of uninsured residents fell from 6.5 million in 2013 to 4.76 million in 2014 -- a drop of 26.7%, according to the Census Bureau data. The change constitutes and 4.7 percentage point decline in the rate of uninsured state residents, from 17.2% in 2013 to 12.4% in 2014 (Graves, "California Budget Bites," 9/17).
Anthony Wright, executive director of the advocacy group Health Access California, said the findings "are encouraging, but there's more still to be done," adding that California "started at such a higher [uninsured] rate than most other states" (Sacramento Bee, 9/16).
Data Difficult To Compare
According to Bloomberg Business, the Census Bureau last year changed its survey methodology, which makes it difficult to compare the new report with prior surveys (Bloomberg Business, 9/16).
In 2013, the Census Bureau changed the way questions about insurance were asked, meaning the results cannot be directly compared with previous data. The changes came about after critics said the old survey created flawed results by asking respondents if they had insurance, rather than about their coverage history.
Republican lawmakers have criticized the changes as an attempt by the Obama administration to mask ACA numbers. Administration officials argued the changes were not politically motivated, but rather were aimed at fixing issues with the survey that had existed for years (California Healthline, 4/16/14).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.