By MARY SELL, Alabama Daily News
The percentage of Alabamians under age 65 without health insurance increased to 11.8%, nearly 461,000 people, in 2020 from 11.6% in 2019.
Nationwide, the percentage of uninsured decreased .2% to 10.4%, according to an analysis of census data by the Public Affairs Research Council of Alabama.
Alabama is one of 12 states that didn’t expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. Three Southeastern states that did expand the program for the low-income have smaller percentages of uninsured populations: Kentucky, 6.9%; Louisiana, 9.6%; and Arkansas, 10.2%, according to the report.
The PACRA report includes county level data. DeKalb County has the highest percentage of uninsured at 19%. Shelby County has the lowest percentage, 9.3%.
“DeKalb and other counties across North Alabama have a greater share of residents who are Hispanic compared to other parts of Alabama. Nationally, the health insurance rate is much lower among Hispanics than in other demographic groups,” the report says.
While Alabama ranked 39th in the nation for the overall percentage of insured, it is better than many others at insuring children. About 3.9% of children and teens under age 19 are uninsured.
More than half of Alabama children receive health care through Medicaid. Additionally, All Kids, a program administered by the Alabama Department of Public Health for low- and middle-income families currently enrolls about 72,000 children.
Earlier this year, a PARCA report said expanding Medicaid in Alabama to cover adults up to 138% of the federal poverty level would increase enrollment by as many as 283,636 people and have an economic impact of $1.89 billion per year over the next six years.
Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act allows people with family incomes around $17,000 for an individual and $29,000 for a family of three to qualify for Medicaid. Currently, Alabama’s Medicaid program covers very few able-bodied adults.
State leaders in Montgomery opting not to expand Medicaid cite the state’s cost for Medicaid expansion, especially after federal incentives go away.
A February poll showed 72% of Alabamians, including 66% of Republicans, favored expanding Medicaid.