Despite major gains in health insurance coverage in Texas since the Affordable Care Act (ACA) went into effect, Texas still has the most uninsured residents and the highest uninsured rate in the nation. That’s according to new numbers released this month by the US Census Bureau.
The new report estimates 17.1% of Texans don’t have health insurance. Earlier this year, a joint research report by EHF and Rice University’s Baker Institute estimated the state’s uninsured rate at 17.9%. EHF’s report showed the percentage of Texans without health insurance dropped by 30% since the ACA, cutting the state’s uninsured rate below 1999 levels. Despite those gains, the new census numbers show Texas remains one of just five states with an uninsured rate above 13%.
“These latest numbers confirm what our report showed — there’s a continuing downward trend in the number of uninsured Texans since the ACA was implemented,” said Elena Marks, EHF’s president and CEO. “However, the ACA as currently implemented in Texas can only go so far. There is still little hope for Texans with the lowest incomes to get affordable health insurance without Medicaid expansion or another system of coverage for this group.”
Medicaid expansion was the key part of the ACA’s plan to provide health insurance for those with the lowest incomes across the nation. So far, Texas and 18 other states have refused billions in federal dollars to expand Medicaid. EHF researchers estimate more than 700,000 Texans would be covered if the state approved a Medicaid expansion plan.
The new Census report shows the average uninsured rate in states that expanded Medicaid was 7%. That’s compared to a 12% uninsured rate in states that have not expanded Medicaid.