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Gallup: Medicaid Expansion, State Exchanges Mean Lower Uninsured Rates

Ja'Nel Johnson

States that accepted the federal Medicaid expansion and established their own health insurance exchanges under the Affordable Care Act have experienced the greatest decline in uninsured rates, according to a new national survey.

And Kentucky continues to show among the biggest drops in rates of uninsured.

The latest Gallup-Healthways Well Being Index shows that by Dec. 31, 2014, the uninsured rate declined 7.1 points in the 22 states that expanded Medicaid and started state-based marketplaces.

The 28 states that had done one or neither experienced a 5.3 point decrease in their uninsured rate over the same time period.

Kentucky maintained its spot as the second-sharpest decline in uninsured rates, showing an 11.4 percent reduction since 2013. Before the Affordable Care Act went into effect, the state's uninsured rate was 20.4 percent. Today, the Gallup survey says, it is 9 percent.

More than 500,000 Kentuckians have bought health insurance or signed up for Medicaid through the state's Kynect exchange, according to the state Cabinet for Health and Family Services. Kynect launched in January 2014.

In a statement, Gov. Steve Beshear said:
"Our newly insured Kentuckians are not waiting until they are sick to access their health care benefits. They are using their coverage to seek recommended preventive health services, such as lifesaving breast and colorectal cancer screenings. Over time, this increased utilization of preventive health services will help improve the overall health of our citizens and our state."
Arkansas has the highest reduction in rates of uninsured since 2013, according to the survey. That state's uninsured rate is 9.1 percent, down from 22.5 percent in 2013.

Nationwide, the uninsured rate fell from 17.3 percent in 2013 to 11.7 percent in the first half of 2015.

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