Medicaid Expansion Drives Significant Reduction in Pennsylvania’s Uninsured Rate

October 12, 2016

Harrisburg, PA –Pennsylvania’s overall uninsured rate has dropped to 6.4 percent, according to recently released data from the US Census Bureau – well below the national average of 9.1 percent and 15th lowest in the US. The commonwealth saw a large drop in adults ages 18 to 64, regardless of income, from 11.7 percent in 2014 down to 8.7 percent in 2015.

“Since my first days in office, I vowed to transition Pennsylvania to a simple, traditional Medicaid expansion plan, in order to simplify a previously complicated process and ensure that hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvanians would have greater access to the health insurance they need,” said Governor Tom Wolf. “I am thrilled to see the success of this expansion. Because of the expansion of Medicaid, hundreds of thousands of people have a brighter future and better potential health outcomes. We are excited to enroll even more Pennsylvanians in our next outreach efforts.”

In April 2015, Governor Wolf expanded Medicaid in Pennsylvania. As a result, more than 670,000 adults ages 18 to 64 (under the 138 percent federal poverty level) who did not previously have access to health care are now covered. That population saw a significant drop in the uninsured rate, falling from 25.4 percent in 2014 down to 17.8 percent in 2015.

Pennsylvania serves children through the state’s Medicaid program and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which are both overseen by the Department of Human Services (DHS). Nationally, the rate of uninsured children under age 19 was 5.3 percent, a decrease from 6.2 percent in 2014. That number is even higher for children in poverty. In 2015, the percentage of uninsured Pennsylvania children under age 19 was 3.7 percent. This was a decrease from 4.9 percent in 2014.

“Ensuring that Pennsylvanians have access to health care coverage provides the foundation for success. When Governor Wolf expanded Medicaid in the commonwealth, he opened the door for hundreds of thousands of hard working Pennsylvanians to get access to the health care coverage they were previously unable to afford,” said DHS Secretary Ted Dallas. “We will continue our efforts to drive the uninsured rate down even further as we focus on hard to reach Pennsylvanians.”

Access to health care is critical for all Pennsylvanians and has several important secondary impacts. For example, in year one of the commonwealth’s Medicaid expansion nearly 63,000 of the newly eligible Medicaid recipients access drug and alcohol treatment – most of those within the first two months of expansion.

“The tens of thousands of Pennsylvanians who accessed substance use treatment were able to do so because Governor Wolf expanded Medicaid and was the single largest expansion of drug treatment in one year in the state’s history,” said Dallas. “The fact that so many did so immediately shows the strong need for these services.”

The Census data mirrors other studies showing a steady decrease in the number of uninsured Americans since the full implementation of the Affordable Care Act in 2013. Medicaid expansion and the availability of exchange subsidies has made insurance more accessible to millions of Americans.

“No one plans to get sick, but when you do and you’re uninsured, you could be one illness away from financial hardship,” said Dallas.

For more information on Pennsylvania’s Medicaid program, HealthChoices, please visit http://www.healthchoicespa.com/. For more information on CHIP, please visit www.chipcoversPAkids.com.


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