Health Care

Number of uninsured Kansans declines

The number of uninsured Kansans declined in 2011 but was still higher than pre- and early recession levels, according to data released Thursday from the U.S. Census Bureau.

The most recent data shows that statewide more than 348,974 Kansans under 65 were uninsured in 2011, or about 14.4 percent of the state’s population. That compares with about 380,500 people in 2010, or about 15.8 percent of the state’s population.

The lowest number and rate in the last six years of data was in 2008, when about 305,000 people in the state, or about 12.8 percent of the population, was uninsured.

Linda Sheppard, special counsel and director of health care policy and analysis for the Kansas Insurance Department, said that the change could be related to two provisions of the Affordable Care Act that went into effect in 2010.

Insurance companies now are required to provide coverage to children with pre-existing conditions. And dependents under the age of 26 are allowed to stay on or rejoin their parents’ plans.

Sedgwick County had an uninsured rate of 15.5 percent, or more than 67,000 people, in 2011, down from 17.1 percent in 2010.

Johnson County had the lowest uninsured rate in the state at 9.9 percent.

The Kansas counties with the five highest rates of uninsured under 65 were Stanton (26.8 percent), Seward (23.8 percent), Wyandotte (22.7 percent), Hamilton (22.6 percent) and Ford (22.2 percent).

Counties in the southwest portion of the state tend to have higher percentages of uninsured, according to the data.

Throughout the country, racial and ethnic minorities continued to have higher uninsured rates compared with non-Hispanic whites, and that also rang true in Kansas.

In 2011, about 11.5 percent of non-Hispanic whites in Kansas were uninsured, compared with about 18.8 percent of non-Hispanic blacks and 29.4 of Hispanics.

Compared with the percentage of uninsured under 65 in other states, Kansas is in the middle at 22nd lowest in the nation.

Massachusetts has the country’s lowest uninsured rate for those under 65, at 4.9 percent. In 2006, Massachusetts mandated health insurance for those over 18 under former Gov. Mitt Romney.

Texas has the highest uninsured rate in the country with 25.7 percent.

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