R.I. 6th best in nation for health insurance enrollment

Elizabeth Burke Bryant is executive director of Rhode Island KIDS COUNT. / PHOTO COURTESY RHODE ISLAND KIDS COUNT/PETER GOLDBERG PHOTOGRAPHY

PROVIDENCE – U.S. Census Bureau data from the 2016 American Community Survey shows more Rhode Islanders were covered for health insurance in 2016 than 2015 – a direct result of the Affordable Care Act, according to the Economic Progress Institute and R.I. KIDS Count.

According to data released Tuesday by the federal agency, the percentage of uninsured Rhode Islanders fell from 5.7 percent (59,000 individuals) in 2015 to 4.3 percent (45,000 individuals) in 2016. This reflects a sixth-place ranking for Rhode Island in a nationwide comparison.

Nationally, the amount of uninsured residents also decreased, almost in half, from 14.5 percent prior to the ACA to 8.6 percent in 2016.

Rhode Island is the state with the third highest percent of insured youth with 97.8 percent of those aged under 19 covered, according to U.S. Census Bureau data released by R.I. KIDS Count.

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More than half, 67.6 percent, of enrolled youth received private coverage and 36.2 percent were covered by Medicaid/RIte Care. R.I. KIDS Count noted these figures total more than 100 percent because some children received more than one type of health insurance coverage.

“Thanks to the ACA more Rhode Islanders are able to get the comprehensive health care they need to become or stay healthy,” said Linda Katz, policy director for the Economic Progress Institute, in a statement. “Medicaid expansion has brought millions of dollars into our state, supporting our economy as a whole and our health care sector in particular.”

Elizabeth Burke Bryant, executive director of R.I. KIDS Count, called the ranking “fantastic news,” in a statement.

Her remarks went on to read: “As we see in the remarkable progress reflected in today’s ACS rankings, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has been a very important part of Rhode Island’s success in connecting children and families to health insurance.”

According to R.I. KIDS Count the 2.2 percent of children in Rhode Island which lack health insurance coverage translate into 5,000 individuals – placing it smack dab in the middle among New England states.

Massachusetts, the state with the fewest number of minors without health insurance, reported 1 percent lacking coverage. Vermont has the second lowest percentage (1.5), followed by Rhode Island, New Hampshire (2.7), Connecticut (2.8) and Maine (4.8).

In 2016, 95.3 percent of all U.S. children received health insurance coverage.

Data in the ACS 2016 report reflect the third full year in which the Affordable Care Act was in effect across the nation and includes figures from private and public coverage as well as Medicaid/CHIP (known as RIte Care in Rhode Island).

Emily Gowdey-Backus is a staff writer for PBN. You can follow her on Twitter @FlashGowdey or contact her via email, gowdey-backus@pbn.com.