August 12, 2015

After health care reform, uninsured rate in NM continues to improve

While New Mexico still is not among the leaders in lowest uninsured rate, the percentage of uninsured since the passage of health care reform legislation has dropped more than 7 percentage points.

man&doctor_webThe numbers from Gallup come from a large nationwide poll that showed uninsured rates have fallen massively in recent years, to the point where five states now have rates under 5 percent.

In New Mexico, 13.1 percent are still uninsured. This is compared to 20.2 percent in 2013, before the health care overhaul, known as the Affordable Care Act, became law. In other words, the uninsured rate has dropped 7.1 percentage points.

One reason for a large drop is likely that New Mexico both has a state-based exchange as well as Medicaid expansion. States with both saw their uninsured rates drop by an average of 7.1 percentage points. In states with one or neither, the uninsured rate dropped just 5.3 percentage points.

New Mexico has a state-based exchange that uses the federal website.

New Mexico’s uninsured rate is still higher than the national average, according to Gallup, though the uninsured rate has dropped faster in New Mexico than in the nation at large.

“Nationwide, the uninsured rate fell from 17.3% in full-year 2013 to 11.7% in the first half of 2015,” the Gallup write-up of the poll says.

At the same time in 2014, New Mexico had the ninth-highest drop in uninsured rate according to Gallup. The drop was five percentage points then, but other states have seen their uninsured rates drop even faster.

No state had a statistically significant increase in uninsured.

The seven states with the largest drops in uninsured rates all both accepted the Medicaid expansion and have a state-based exchange or partnership with the federal government. Five of these states saw drops of more than ten percentage points, led by Arkansas with a 13.24 percentage point drop.

A Centers for Disease Control poll released on Wednesday was even more bullish, putting the uninsured rate at below 10 percent nationwide for the first time in fifty years of surveys on the question.

Dan Diamond of Forbes wrote about the difference between states with Medicaid expansion and those without.

In states that haven’t expanded in Medicaid, about 23% of residents under age-65 were uninsured in 2013; that’s down to about 17%. But in states that have expanded Medicaid? The comparable uninsured rate has fallen from about 18.5% in 2013 to 10.5% this year.

These are both, of course, above 10 percent. But these numbers do not include those over 65. Those over 65 are eligible for health insurance through Medicare. The uninsured rate of those under the age of 65 is 13 percent in the CDC poll.

This and other issues may be why the views of the healthcare law have improved to nearly even approval and disapproval according to Gallup. Other polls in the last few months have shown similar results.

This doesn’t include numbers about the cost of insurance. And in New Mexico, Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Mexico may leave the state after a proposed large rate hike was rejected. Other health insurance organizations are preparing to take on those clients.

The poll overall surveyed 178,072 adults nationwide between Jan. 2 and Dec. 30, 2013 for the 2013 numbers and 88,667 adults nationwide between Jan. 2 and June 30, 2015 for the 2015 numbers. The polls were conducted via both landline and cell phones.

The data was collected as part of the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index. The question asked was “Do you have health insurance coverage?”

In New Mexico, 1,514 adults were polled in 2013 and 717 adults were polled in 2015 through the first half of 2015.