Poll shows 13% of Kentucky adults 18-64 said they were not covered by health insurance last fall; employer coverage drops

By Al Cross
Kentucky Health News

Fewer Kentuckians reported having employer-provided insurance last year while the percentage on public insurance such as Medicaid continued to increase, according to the latest Kentucky Health Issues Poll.

The poll, taken Sept. 17 through Oct. 7, found that 41 percent of Kentuckians aged 18 to 64 said they had health insurance through their employer, down from 50 percent in 2014. Those saying they had public insurance rose to 35 percent, from 29 percent the year before.

The percentage on public insurance began to rise in 2014, when the state expanded eligibility for the federal-state Medicaid program to people in households with incomes up to 138 percent of the income level that the federal government considers the upper limit of poverty.

That also caused the share of Kentuckians without insurance to fall sharply. In the Kentucky Health Issues Poll in 2013 it was 25 percent; in 2014, it was only 12 percent. In 2015, it stayed stable at 13 percent. Another 8 percent in the latest poll indicated they were insured but had been without health insurance at some point in the past 12 months. The poll’s margin of error is plus or minus 2.4 percentage points.

The uninsured figure is almost twice as high as that found in polling by The Gallup Organization, which includes people 65 and over, who automatically qualify for Medicare. Gallup found that in the second half of 2015, only 7.5 percent of Kentucky respondents said they did not have health coverage.

The Kentucky Health Issues Poll focuses on adults 18-64 because 98 percent of Kentuckians 65 and over have health coverage. The poll is conducted by the Institute for Policy Research at the University of Cincinnati for the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky and Interact for Health, formerly the Health Foundation of Greater Cincinnati.

Since 2013, the share of adults 18-64 who earn less than 200 percent of the federal poverty level and are uninsured has fallen from more than 3 out of 10 to only 1 in 10. “Uninsurance rates are now about the same for all Kentucky adults regardless of income, reducing one potential barrier to receiving needed health care,” says Jennifer Chubinski, Interact for Health’s vice president for innovation and learning.

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