PROVIDENCE – Data from the 2015 American Community Survey released by the U.S. Census Bureau Tuesday found fewer Rhode Island adults lacked health insurance in 2015 than in 2014, while the percentage of uninsured children increased slightly in the same time period.
Census data found the number of uninsured adult Rhode Islanders fell to 59,000 in 2015, or 5.7 percent of the population, from 77,000 in 2014, or 7.4 percent.
According to Providence-based The Economic Progress Institute, there are two factors for the drop in uninsured adults: Medicaid expansion, which accounts for insuring 60,000 adults whose income is marginally above with the poverty line, and HealthSource RI, which allowed for an additional 35,000 adults, with varying degrees of low income, to purchase private insurance.
The state fiscal year 2015 Rhode Island Annual Medicaid Expenditure Report found one in four Rhode Islanders relies on federal or state Medicaid program for health insurance.
Rhode Island ranked seventh nationally, for its percent of residents insured, and third in New England behind Massachusetts, which took first place nationally with 2.8 percent uninsured, and Vermont’s second place overall ranking of 3.8 percent.
“Besides the obvious benefits for families and individuals, having a healthy work force is a good selling point for our state,” Linda Katz, policy director for The Economic Progress Institute, said in a statement.
The data shows a slight increase in the percentage of uninsured for the state’s youth. The number of uninsured children in Rhode Island rose to 3.4 percent, or an estimated 6,936 children in 2015, from 3.3 percent in 2014, or an estimated 7,107 children.
Nationally, 4.8 percent of U.S. children were uninsured in 2015 compared with 6 percent in 2014.
Rhode Island ranked 14th overall in the 2015 state comparison and fifth in New England behind Vermont (1 percent), Massachusetts (1.1 percent), New Hampshire (2.7 percent) and Connecticut (3.3 percent.)
Elizabeth Burke Bryant, executive director of Rhode Island KIDS COUNT, was disappointed by the state’s fall to 14th from seventh in the nation.
She said: “As we see in other states, it’s possible to get even closer to crossing the finish line of universal children’s coverage. With Rhode Island’s new integrated eligibility system going live this week, we have new opportunities to close the coverage gap and connect all children and families to coverage.”