Number Of Uninsured Increases In Florida, Tops National Average

September 13, 2018

More than 2.6 million people in Florida lacked health insurance at some point in 2017, according to data released Wednesday by the U.S. Census Bureau.

That means about 12.9 percent of the state’s population last year was uninsured — up from 12.5 percent in 2016 — as Florida continued to be higher than the national average of 8.8 percent.

“Florida is going in the wrong direction, and Florida already had a high uninsured rate to begin with,” said Joan Alker, executive director and research professor at the Center for Children and Families at the Georgetown University McCourt School of Public Policy.

Nationally, the data showed that about 1 in 4 uninsured people were 26 to 34 years old, and about 1 in 5 uninsured people were ages 34 to 44. Data also indicated that the uninsured tended to have lower incomes and were more likely to have high-school educations or less.

Florida had the fifth-highest rate of uninsured residents in the nation, with the higher states Texas (17.3 percent), Oklahoma (14.2 percent), Alaska (13.7 percent) and Georgia (13.4 percent).

The release of the new numbers comes at a time when health care remains one of the top issues dividing Florida political leaders and as it has become a key issue during this year’s elections.

Democrats have long called for expanding Medicaid eligibility under the federal Affordable Care Act to include uninsured childless adults with incomes at or below 138 percent of the federal poverty level. But the Republican-controlled Legislature has rejected the idea.

Before his 2014 re-election campaign, Republican Gov. Rick Scott came out in favor of Medicaid expansion but later resumed his opposition to the idea. Scott is running for the U.S. Senate this year, trying to unseat longtime Democratic incumbent Bill Nelson.

Scott spokesman McKinley Lewis said the narrative that Medicaid expansion is a cure-all “just isn’t’ true” and that “19 states that expanded Medicaid have seen an increase in the number of uninsured.”

“Florida’s Medicaid program is operating at an all-time high in efficiency and service to Florida families,” Lewis said. “The fact is, Gov. Scott has offered significant proposals on how Washington can increase quality and access to health care.”

After President Donald Trump was elected, Scott called for Congress to repeal the federal health-care overhaul, which was pushed into law by former President Barack Obama and is commonly known as Obamacare. The effort ultimately failed, although Florida is now part of an ongoing lawsuit that could dismantle key portions of the law.

A closer look of the new data shows that in Florida, about 45 percent of people with insurance in 2017 obtained it through their employers. Medicare, the government-run program for people 65 and older, and Medicaid, which covers the poor, elderly and disabled, account for 21.7 percent and 18.6 percent of the insured population respectively. Another 3 percent of Floridians with health insurance obtained it through the Veterans Administration, according to the data.

The remaining people obtained their insurance, according to the Census data, by directly purchasing policies. For many people, that meant buying policies on the federal health-care exchange, which was created through the Affordable Care Act.

Jodi Ray, director of the organization Florida Covering Kids & Families, said she wasn’t surprised by the Census data.

Florida Covering Kids & Families works to provide education, training and enrollment assistance to help people obtain health coverage. As she travels the state, it’s not unusual for her, she said, to speak with residents who aren’t aware that they can enroll in the federal health insurance exchange.

“It never fails to shock me when I hear them say, ‘I thought that went away,’ “she said.

by Christine Sexton, The News Service of Florida


5 Responses to “Number Of Uninsured Increases In Florida, Tops National Average”

  1. FaithinUS on September 14th, 2018 12:53 pm

    Just lost my employer-sponsored health insurance along with my job of 7 years, and if not for “ObamaCare”, I would not have any coverage at all now–the premiums are more than what the state offers for unemployment benefits for the three months maximum it’s available, if not for the tax credits I qualify for now that I’m jobless for the first time in decades.
    Your beloved Republicans are STILL trying to take my healthcare away thru the lawsuit they’ve filed in TX that’s currently being heard. God help us all if the judge agrees with their cockamamie argument!

  2. Rick on September 13th, 2018 7:07 pm

    Way to go Rick Scott. Everybody wants to say it’s the Democrats , look at the Republicans now. The average person gets screwed over by these clowns. For all you who say the Republicans help your taxes you are very misguided. The lower income suffer under republicans. I’m talking about the working poor. Most affluent white people always vote for these republican goofballs. I would rather my taxes go to the poor programs than some republican trying to spend 75 million on some tourist committee. This state beaches advertise themselves. Leave it to scott to give away our money

  3. Denny on September 13th, 2018 3:13 pm

    I’d rather folks have Medicaid. They can obtain preventive care instead of more expensive emergency care later, of which expenses are passed on to you and me anyway, in the form of higher premiums and medical bills. Pay like this or pay through taxes. The only alternative is to have people die without medical care, including innocent children.

    It doesn’t bother me to be criticized by people who lack compassion – those who literally believe in “Suffer the little children.” The country benefits when everyone is healthier.

  4. Jason on September 13th, 2018 10:29 am

    Democrats are all about spending that FREE money and a willingness to give away all kinds of entitlements to buy votes. Lets face it, NOTHING IN LIFE IS FREE.

    Expanding medicaid sounds like a great ideal as a way to provide FREE insurance to those in poverty. But the only way to pay the cost associated with giving FREE insurance is to either lower re-reimbursement costs to hospitals and doctors providing the medical services or to use taxpayer dollars to cover the additional costs. If one elects to use additional taxpayer dollars to cover the allegedly FREE insurance cost, from what other government funded program do you decide doesnt need the millions of dollars it will take to provide expanded medicaid?

    Several studies have shown that many of those in the 24-34 age bracket have opted to forego insurance and pay the fines mandated by the Affordable Care Act, as these folks dont feel the cost of insurance outweighs the benefits. Paying the fines levied under the ACA is actually cheaper than buying insurance.

    Only a Democrat believes reaching into my wallet to redistribute my money is an acceptable way to provide FREE benefits to others. If a Democrat wants my vote, they better be preaching how they believe in a smaller, leaner government and lifetime limitations on FREE or subsidized benefits. Charity should begin at home and not from a government handout.

  5. Kate on September 13th, 2018 8:49 am

    Interestingly, they are all republican voting states. SO their lets screw President Obama has backfired and all these states have screwed their citizens, great move.
    Oh, and thank you governor Scott, red tide, and low rates of insured. Great job, I sure want to see you in Washington. I think if you get there you will learn a lesson, you will follow the republican policy or your out in the cold, you can’t be that stupid.

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