Failure to support the Affordable Care Act and expand Medicaid in New York State would threaten 2011 progress in health care coverage

September 20, 2012. After years of watching the number of New Yorkers without insurance climb higher and higher, we are finally seeing the trend reverse, thanks to health care reform and Medicaid. The data released today by the U.S. Census Bureau underscores the urgency for New York to implement health care reform.

According to the Census Bureau’s 2011 American Community Survey data, overall health insurance coverage in New York increased slightly from 2010 to 2011, from 88.1 percent to 88.6 percent.

Private health insurance coverage continued to decline though, from 67.9 percent in 2009 to 65.1 percent in 2011. Health insurance provided by the government grew over this same time period -from 31.8 percent in 2009 to 34.1 percent in 2011.

An exception to the overall drop in private health insurance coverage lies within the 18 to 24 year old age group. An increase in overall coverage for these young adults was driven by the growth in their coverage under private health insurance – up by almost 89,500 persons from approximately 1, 131,000 in 2010 to 1,220,400 in 2011. This represents a statistically significant 4.5 percent increase in coverage from 57.8 to 62.4 percent.

Just as striking is the 2011 increase in the number of New York children under 18 years of age covered by Medicaid – up by almost 89,000 from approximately 1,587,000 in 2010 to 1,676,000 in 2011. This represents a statistically significant increase of 2.4 percent for this age group. Given that the total number of uninsured under 18 year olds went down by only 27,600 – from almost 208,500 in 2010 to over 180,800 in 2011 – it is likely that many children previously covered by private insurance or other public insurance are now being covered by Medicaid.

The American Community Survey asks respondents to report their health insurance at the time of the survey (“point-in-time”). A person uninsured at the time of the survey but insured at a different point during the year is identified as uninsured in the ACS.