New Census Data Underscore Texas’ Need for Affordable Health Coverage

This week’s Census release shows that Texas still has the highest rate of uninsured in the United States, at 24.6 percent, or 6.4 million, reaffirming the need for affordable health coverage for all Texans. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, in 2014, uninsured Texans above the poverty line (e.g. $23,550 for a family of four) will finally have options for new, affordable health coverage.

We know what works to reduce uninsured rates. Fifteen years ago, 1 in 4 Texas kids was uninsured, but today, thanks to Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program, the overall uninsured rate for Texas kids is down to 1 in 6 (16.4 percent). Clearly, making affordable health coverage available for low-income and poverty-level Texans makes a real difference.

The latest data show nearly 1 in 3 working-age adults in Texas ages 19-64 (32.1 percent) is uninsured and are nearly twice as likely to be uninsured as Texas children. Texans are much less likely to get health coverage through their jobs, or their spouse’s or parent’s job, than the average American, with 51.6 percent of Texans under 65 receiving employer-based health insurance compared to 58.4 percent of Americans.

These facts show us why the new health insurance marketplace created by the Affordable Care Act is so important. It will give uninsured Texans above the poverty line who don’t have a quality affordable employer-based health plan a new way to get good coverage at prices that fit their budgets.

However, because our state leaders have refused to accept federal funds from the Affordable Care Act to expand Medicaid, Texas’ uninsured adults ages 19-64 below the poverty line are left with no help. In other words, the parents in a family of four making $25,000 can apply for a generous subsidy through the health insurance marketplace, but the parents in a family of four making $22,000 won’t be eligible for help. Today’s data show about 1 million US citizen Texas adults below the poverty line were uninsured in 2012, making up 1 in 6 of all uninsured Texans.

Our state leaders must act to provide more options for our poorest Texans so they can have the opportunity for quality, affordable health coverage like those above the poverty line.

For more details from the U.S. Census Bureau, click here.

Written by: Anne Dunkelberg, Center for Public Policy Priorities. Cross-posted from Better Texas Blog.

 

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