The rate of people without health insurance in rural Connecticut has gone down dramatically since the passage of the Affordable Care Act.
That’s the takeaway message from a new report on health insurance out of Georgetown University’s Center for Children and Families. Edwin Park, a research professor at the center, said the key to the drop is the state’s expansion of Medicaid to include more people.
“The uninsured rate for those in rural areas and small towns declined three times faster in expansion states like the state of Connecticut than in non-expansion states,” he said.
Generally speaking, Medicaid -- which pays for health insurance for the poor -- did not originally cover younger adults and those without disabilities, who have higher incomes. Adults without children had a hard time getting covered at all.
The Affordable Care Act gave states the option to cover more adults up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level, which translates to an income of no more than roughly $34,00 for a family of four. And the federal government pays 90 percent of the bill.
Park said the effect of the expansion was to slash the rural uninsured rate by more than two thirds -- from 32 percent to nine percent. And, he said, research shows that more access to insurance means better health care, and better life outcomes.
“Health coverage, and, in particular, Medicaid, provides short-term health benefits,” Park said. “It provides financial protection against catastrophic health costs when you get sick, and there are longer-term benefits and economic benefits from health coverage.”