Number of uninsured New Yorkers dropped significantly in 2015

The number of New Yorkers without health insurance dropped significantly last year, according to a National Center for Health Statistics study released last week.

The center’s National Health Interview Survey, conducted between January and September 2015, found that 7.3 percent of New Yorkers ages 18 to 64 were uninsured, a decrease of 5.6 percent from 2014.

In that age group, 23.5 percent of New Yorkers had coverage from a public health insurance plan, while 70.7 percent had private health insurance.

Although the survey did not offer reasons for the coverage gains, many experts credit the Affordable Care Act with decreasing the uninsured population across the nation.

The health care law, which began initiatives to expand coverage in 2014, offers subsidized private insurance through online marketplaces, such as HealthCare.gov nationwide and NYStateofHealth.ny.gov in New York.

It also offers a Medicaid expansion aimed at low-income adults, which has been approved by 31 states and the District of Columbia. In all states, however, nearly every American is required to have health insurance or risk paying a federal income tax penalty.

The survey called New York’s reduction in uninsured persons “statistically significant,” placing it third among the 37 states surveyed in terms of its coverage gains.

Kentucky led the way, increasing its medically-insured population by 6.5 percent. The Republican-led state saw its rate of uninsured residents drop from 15.6 percent in 2014 to 9.1 percent in the first nine months of 2015.

In second place was Arizona, which saw its uninsured population drop by 5.9 percent between 2014 and 2015, from 19.5 percent to 13.6 percent.

Besides New York, Kentucky and Arizona, five other states saw a “statistically significant” reduction in their uninsured populations: California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois and Michigan.

An additional 10 states had notable reductions, but did not meet the survey’s qualifications for statistical significance.

The survey focused on the 18-to-64 age group because so many senior citizens, children and teens have coverage. When all ages were considered at once, the survey found that 5.2 percent of New Yorkers were uninsured last year, well below the national average for 2015, which was found to be 9.1 percent.

To see the National Health Interview Survey in its entirety, visit http://wdt.me/NHI-survey.

By Eli Anderson, Watertown Daily Times