Share of uninsured Louisianans fell to 12.5% last year

    Louisiana’s share of uninsured residents fell to 12.5% in 2016, down from 21.7% in 2013, placing the Bayou State among the 10 states with the greatest reductions in uninsured adults, according to a Gallup report released this morning.

    The report attributes the sharp decrease—9.2 percentage points for Louisiana—to the expansion of Medicaid as part of the implementation of Affordable Care Act. All 10 states with the greatest reductions in their uninsured rates expanded the federal-state program for low-income residents.

    Expanding Medicaid was the first order of business for Gov. John Bel Edwards when he took office in January 2016. Since then, nearly 400,000 adult Louisianans have enrolled in the Medicaid as of Feb. 6, according to the latest Louisiana Department of Health figures. Kentucky and Arkansas have had the greatest reductions of uninsured residents between 2013 and last year, at 12.6 and 12.3 percentage points, respectively.

    Gallup tracks trends in the uninsured rate as part of its Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, which surveys Americans about whether they have health insurance coverage.

    While Gallup found correlations between Medicaid expansion and the decrease in uninsured adults, the report notes that the findings reflect both the lauded effects of the ACA in giving more Americans access to health insurance and the criticism that the ACA forced others out of their previously existing plans.

    “The reduction in the uninsured rate, however, was only one of several stated goals of the Affordable Care Act. Reducing the rise in healthcare costs and improving Americans’ overall health were two others,” reads the report. “The latter goal has not yet been realized, as fewer Americans rated their health as ‘excellent’ in 2016 than in 2010 when the healthcare law was signed into effect.”

    Despite the sharp decline for Louisiana, the population of insured adults remains above the national rate, which fell to 10.9% in 2016. Gallup says this is true for many of the states with the greatest reductions.

    Gallup polled 177,192 adults 18 and older via telephone between Jan. 2 and Dec. 30, 2016, for the report. The survey has a margin of error between one to two percentage points.

    See the full report.

    —Alexandria Burris 

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