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Indiana sees decrease in residents without health insurance

Photo Credit: Aaron P. Bernstein

FORT WAYNE, Ind. — A U.S. Census Bureau report has found that Indiana had 373,000 fewer people without health insurance last year than three years earlier.

The report released last week said about 8 percent of Indiana residents, or about 530,000 people, lacked medical insurance in 2016. That’s down from 14 percent, or 903,000 residents, in 2013.

Those figures are similar to the national uninsured rates of 14.5 percent in 2013 and 8.6 percent in 2016.

The decreases follow the 2013 implementation of former President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act, which requires most Americans to have medical insurance, and the expansion of Medicaid coverage for low-income people in many states, including the Healthy Indiana Program.

Census Bureau official Jennifer Cheeseman Day said data analysts couldn’t determine how much of the improvement was linked to the Affordable Care Act and how much was the result of economic trends.

“Certainly we’ve seen improvements in the uninsured rate since after 2013, when many of the effects of the Affordable Care Act went into effect,” she said.

Dr. Jonathan Walker, assistant clinical professor at the Indiana University School of Medicine in Fort Wayne, attributed the declines in uninsured Americans to the Affordable Care Act and Medicaid expansion.

“It is difficult to understand why there are still some states that are refusing to help their uninsured by expanding Medicaid,” Walker told the (Fort Wayne) Journal Gazette . “This refusal has resulted in millions of Americans struggling without access to care, and it is so counterintuitive that it seems to be an act of spite rather than considered policy.”

Massachusetts had an uninsured rate of 2.5 percent last year, the lowest in the nation. Massachusetts enacted state insurance mandates in 2006.

Texas had the highest rate, at 16.6 percent. Texas is one of 20 states that haven’t expanded Medicaid.

The Census Bureau report found that employer-based insurance covered 55.7 percent of the U.S. population in 2016. Medicaid covered 19.4 percent, Medicare 16.7 percent, direct-purchase 16.2 percent and military coverage 4.6 percent.