Wolf: Pa. uninsured rate lowest on record

Data comes from new federal report

A new national study on health insurance coverage shows that Pennsylvania’s uninsured rate dropped to 5.6 percent in 2016, the lowest figure on record, Gov. Tom Wolf said Wednesday.

That figure was down from 6.4 percent in 2015, Wolf said, adding that Pennsylvania’s uninsured rate was more than 10 percent prior to implementation of the Affordable Care Act — popularly known as Obamacare — and expansion of Medicaid under the Wolf administration.

Medicaid relies on a mix of federal and state funding to insure children and adults with low incomes. The ACA, which was signed into law by President Barack Obama in 2010, directed additional federal money to help states expand coverage.

Pennsylvania’s data was released as part of a federal study on 2016 health insurance coverage nationwide, based on newly released population reports from the U.S. Census Bureau.

The national uninsured rate dropped to 8.8 percent in 2016, the study showed, down from 9.1 percent in 2015.

Nationwide, employer-based insurance covered 55.7 percent of the population for some or all of the calendar year, followed by Medicaid (19.4 percent), Medicare (16.7 percent), direct-purchase (16.2 percent), and military cover­age (4.6 percent), the report added.

Pa. statistics

File

The ACA has helped more than 1.1 million Pennsylvanians access health coverage, acting Insurance Commissioner Jessica Altman said, while more than 711,000 people have received coverage since 2015 under Wolf’s Medicaid expansion program.

“Before expansion, most of these individuals either couldn’t afford coverage or didn’t have access to it,” Acting Secretary for Human Services Teresa Miller said. “Additionally, the ACA provided the commonwealth’s former foster kids with health care coverage until age 26.”

In Pennsylvania, the report showed a continued reduction in the number of uninsured residents since 2013, when the figure was 9.7 percent.

“This reduction shows that our steps to expand Medicaid and stabilize our individual market are working in Pennsylvania,” Wolf said.

“We will continue to work to ensure that Pennsylvanians have access to quality coverage at an affordable price and advocate in a bipartisan way to fix Obamacare at the federal level,” he added.

Roger DuPuis
Roger DuPuis covers Cumberland County, health care, transportation, distribution, energy and environment. Have a tip or question for him? Email him at rdupuis@cpbj.com.

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