Percentage Of Virginians With Health Insurance Continues To Increase

Sep 13, 2017

The latest round of Census numbers includes some positive news about health insurance in Virginia. Those gains are threatened by uncertainty in Washington, though.

New numbers from the Census Bureau show significant improvement in the percentage of people in Virginia who have health insurance. Back in 2013, 12 percent of Virginians had no health insurance. Now that number is down to 9 percent. Michael Cassidy at the Commonwealth Institute says that shows the Affordable Care Act is working and shouldn’t be repealed even if Virginia refuses to expand Medicaid.

“Virginia’s share of residents with health insurance is no longer ahead of the national rate," Cassidy said, "and we are lagging behind a large number of our neighboring states.”

Experts say those gains are being threatened, though. Several providers in the marketplace for subsidized health insurance have pulled out, leaving low-income people in rural parts of the state in a bind.  In some cases, they have health insurance but nobody will take it.

Jill Hanken at the Virginia Poverty Law Center says Congress needs to act. “Really what they need to do is promise to pay the cost-sharing reductions, which all the health plans want and need," Hanken says. "And they can also adopt some kind of reinsurance to cover individuals who have super high medical costs.”

Congress is still debating the issue. Meanwhile open enrollment for 2018 starts in a few weeks.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association