Last week, the NY Times’ The Upshot featured an interactive look at new coverage data from Enroll America and data firm Civic Analytics. According to the data, roughly 10 million people gained coverage this year as a result of the Affordable Care Act. What’s exciting about the data is that it provides a much closer look at who the newly insured might be and where they may live.
The article is accompanied by a colorful map of county-level data showing estimated coverage gains between 2013 and 2014. It’s exciting to see that coverage rates increased by over 10% in some parts of the country, including rural areas of Arkansas, Nevada and Oregon. New York’s coverage gains aren’t quite as dramatic, hovering around 5% in most areas, likely because our coverage rates are already relatively high by national standards. (In 2013, New York ranked 12th in the nation for its insured population).
But with a State as large as New York, even a less dramatic percentage change equals a very high number of people. Remember that over 1.5 million people enrolled in health insurance through the NY State of Health in its first year, and roughly 1.3 million of these people were uninsured when they applied. This new data also helps us understand which parts of New York may have seen the biggest coverage gains. For example, Greene County appears to have had the biggest decrease in its uninsured rate, dropping by 6% from 14% in 2013 to 8% in 2014.
As for the country as a whole, the trends are somewhat surprising and certainly encouraging. According to this data, some traditionally underserved communities may have been helped the most by the Affordable Care Act, including racial and ethnic minorities (Hispanics and black Americans), low-income people, and people living in rural areas. Hispanic uninsurance rates, for example, dropped nearly 10% from 26.2% in 2013 to 16.5% in 2014.
Keep in mind that the data are from a statistical model based on a large-scale Enroll America survey, so they are estimated rather than actual numbers. Still, these estimates provide ample food for thought as we await Census data for 2014.