California Halves Medically Uninsured Rate to 8.6 Percent

September 13, 2016

Sacramento Bee
Lezlie Sterling

Photo: Dr. Celia Sutton-Pado examines Leland Pauly, 90, who has lived in Camptonville his whole life, on Sept. 1, 2015. On the first Tuesday of every month, the Western Sierra Medical group sends a mobile health clinic to the community resource center in Camptonville. The shortage of rural health care providers has worsened as more and more people enroll in the Affordable Care Act.

California’s vigorous embrace of Obamacare, particularly its sharp expansion of Medi-Cal coverage for the poor, has has reduced the state’s medically uninsured population by half, a new Census Bureau report says.

Three years ago, California had one of the nation’s lowest rates of medical insurance coverage, with 17.2 percent of its nearly 40 million residents lacking coverage, but by 2015, its uninsured rate had dropped to 8.6 percent, the Census Bureau study found.

The state established Covered California, a health insurance exchange, to steer the uninsured into either private coverage or Medi-Cal, which has grown to cover more than a third of the state’s residents. The number of uninsured dropped from 6.5 million in 2012 to 3.3 million in 2015, and the proportion of uninsured, 8.6 percent, was well below the national rate of 9.4 percent in 2015.

However, because other states were also seeing declines during the three-year period covered by the report, California’s uninsured rate was still higher than those of 24 other states. The 2015 rates ranged from a high of 14.9 percent in Alaska to 2.8 percent in Massachusetts.

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