Number of uninsured Ohioans falls sharply

The Affordable Care Act has helped push down the number of medically uninsured Ohioans to its lowest level in more than six years, based on the results of an Ohio Health Issues Poll released Tuesday.

The uninsurance rate for Ohio adults between the ages of 18 and 64 fell from 17 percent last year to 11 percent in May, according to the survey, which was funded by Cincinnati-based Interact for Health, an independent, nonprofit health research organization.

The approximately 800,000 adult Ohioans who still don’t have health coverage “is the lowest level of uninsured adults ever measured by the poll,” said Jennifer Chubinski, director of community research for Interact for Health, which began tracking the uninsurance rate in 2006.

The sharp decline in the number of uninsured Ohioans corresponded with the launch of the federal health insurance marketplace and the expansion of Medicaid in Ohio under the ACA.

At least 10 percent of survey respondents with health coverage said they got insurance as a result of the health care law, which took effect at the beginning of the year and requires most people to buy health insurance or pay a tax penalty.

“The only major change that would account for the drop in the uninsurance rate from 17 percent to 11 percent is the implementation of the Affordable Care Act,” said Interact for Health Vice President Kate Keller, who noted Ohio’s uninsurance rate had remained relatively stable from 2007 to 2013 at between 17-19 percent.

The Ohio health survey mirrors several national surveys that have also found the percentage of uninsured adults decreased significantly this year.

Nationally, 17.3 percent of U.S. adults reported being without health insurance in 2013, according to a recent Gallup poll, which showed the rate had fallen to 13.4 percent in the second quarter this year.

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