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RWJF Examines Current and Future Coverage Eligibility For the Uninsured – It’s a State by State Issue

By Clive Riddle, May 30, 2014

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, in conjunction with the Urban Institute, has just issued a nine-page Issue Brief: Eligibility for Assistance and Projected Changes in Coverage Under the ACA: Variation Across States.

The Urban Institute authors, Matthew Buettgens, Genevieve M. Kenney, and Hannah Recht found that:

  • This year, under the ACA, 56% of the uninsured became eligible for financial assistance with health insurance coverage through Medicaid, CHIP or subsidized private coverage through the new marketplaces.
  • In states that expanded Medicaid eligibility under the ACA, 68% of the uninsured became eligible for assistance, compared with 44% in states that have not expanded Medicaid.
  • If states that have not expanded Medicaid eligibility were to do so, 71% of their uninsured would be eligible for assistance.
  • Among states expanding Medicaid, the ACA is projected to reduce the number of uninsured people by 56%, compared with a 34% reduction among states not expanding Medicaid.
  • If the states that have not expanded eligibility were to do so, the number of uninsured in those states would decrease by 59% 

The authors note that the “Medicaid expansion states with the lowest share of uninsured eligible for assistance tend to be those in which Medicaid eligibility for adults had already been expanded above minimum required levels before the ACA.”

Given the state decisions are the determining factor, what is the range of eligible uninsureds in the non-Medicaid expansion states, and where is the low end based? Look South. The Authors state that “with the exception of Wisconsin, the share of the uninsured in nonexpanding states eligible for assistance ranges from 40 percent in Texas to 58 percent in Alaska and Maine. The states with the lowest shares eligible for assistance (Texas, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Georgia) have particularly large shares of residents below 100 percent of FPL. [What’s up with Wisconsin? The authors note that Wisconsin changed its Medicaid Waiver in 2014 and “therefore, Wisconsin resembles a Medicaid expansion state.”]

The top five states (all expansion states) by percentage eligible for any assistance, along with the projected percentage decrease in uninsured under the ACA:

1. West Virginia – 83% Eligible / 76% decrease in uninsureds

2. Kentucky – 82% Eligible / 63% decrease in uninsureds

3. Michigan – 81% Eligible /64% decrease in uninsureds

4. Ohio – 81% Eligible / 65% decrease in uninsureds

5. North Dakota – 80% Eligible / 64% decrease in uninsureds

Conversely, here’s the bottom five states (all non expansion states):

50. Texas – 40% Eligible / 31% decrease in uninsureds

49. Mississippi – 42% Eligible / 31% decrease in uninsureds

48. Louisiana -– 42% Eligible / 32% decrease in uninsureds

47. Georgia – 42% Eligible / 30% decrease in uninsureds

46. Alabama -– 43% Eligible / 28% decrease in uninsureds

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