Census: Calif. Has 10th Highest Rate of Uninsured Individuals
California has the largest number of residents without health insurance in the U.S. and the 10th highest rate of uninsured individuals, according to a U.S. Census Bureau report, the Sacramento Bee's "Capitol Alert" reports.
However, officials expect the population of uninsured residents to shrink by at least 50% when the state health insurance exchange and Medi-Cal expansion are implemented under the Affordable Care Act.
Medi-Cal is California's Medicaid program (Walters, "Capitol Alert," Sacramento Bee, 8/30).
Background on Exchange
The exchange -- called Covered California -- primarily will serve individuals and small businesses.
Supporters hope that the exchange will function similarly to websites like Amazon and Expedia, allowing users to choose among various health plans through an easily navigable online store.
The exchange is expected to open for registration in October, and an estimated five million people will purchase plans through the exchange in 2014.
Background on Medi-Cal Expansion
Under the ACA, a state expansion of Medi-Cal will allow individuals with incomes up to 138% of the federal poverty level, or $15,415 annually, to gain coverage.
The federal government will fund the expansion for the first few years, according to the ACA (California Healthline, 7/24).
Details of Census Data
The census data examined health insurance coverage rates in all 50 states and in each of the nation's 3,140 counties. The data were used to calculate and determine annual changes in health insurance coverage from 2008 to 2011 (U.S. Census Bureau release, 8/29).
The U.S. Census report found that state rates of uninsured residents under age 65 ranged from 4.9% in Massachusetts to 25.7% in Texas (U.S. Census Bureau report, 8/29).
The data also showed that uninsured rates from 2010 to 2011:
- Remained constant in 29 states and the District of Columbia;
- Decreased in 19 states; and
- Increased in two states (Chokshi, "GovBeat," Washington Post, 8/29).
In addition, the report found significant variation in uninsured rates at the county level. Norfolk County in Massachusetts had the lowest rate of uninsured individuals, with 3.1% of residents going without insurance, while Aleutians East Borough in Alaska had the highest rate, at 46% (Moskop, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 8/29).
More than six million Californians -- or 20% of state residents under age 65 -- lacked health insurance when the census data were collected.
Marin County had the lowest rate of uninsured residents, at 12% ("Capitol Alert," Sacramento Bee, 8/30).
Meanwhile, rates of uninsured residents from 2008 to 2011:
- Decreased in Del Norte and Lassen counties; and
- Increased in 13 other counties, including Los Angeles, Sacramento and San Francisco (U.S. Census Bureau report, 8/29).