Poll: Kansas only state with big uninsured jump

Health Insurance

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Kansas is the only state in the nation to see its uninsured rate increase significantly in the past year, a new Gallup poll shows, while states that adopted optional parts of the Affordable Care Act have seen the largest declines.

Kansas, which has resisted expanding its Medicaid program through the health care law, saw its rate of uninsured adults rise from 12.5 percent last year to 17.6 percent during the first half of this year. That puts the state’s uninsured rate at seventh-highest in the nation, according to data collected as part of the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index.

“It’s eye-popping. Kansas really sticks out,” Dan Witters, research director for the Well-Being Index, told The Kansas City Star

Kansas was the only state with a statistically significant increase in the percentage of uninsured residents, Witters told the newspaper, as uninsured rates in other states declined or remained unchanged.

The Kansas number “appears to be an anomaly that needs more review,” state Insurance Commissioner Sandy Praeger said. “To have the uninsured jump that much in one year would be unprecedented,” as the state has had an uninsured rate of 12 percent to 13 percent for many years.

Witters told The Associated Press earlier this week that Gallup is taking a closer look at Kansas’ number.

The Well-Being Index is an ongoing national poll that surveys people’s health, relationships and finances. The margin of sampling error for 2013 in most states is plus or minus 1 to 2 percentage points.

Kansas is among the states that have not expanded their Medicaid programs to cover more people with low incomes. It also did not establish its own exchange through the act, instead relying on the federal exchange, which was plagued for months with computer glitches.

Missouri, which like Kansas did not expand Medicaid or create its own exchange, remained essentially flat, with 15.2 percent uninsured in 2013 and 15.1 percent uninsured through mid-2014.

The Gallup poll found that the 10 states with the largest reductions in uninsured rates this year all had expanded their Medicaid programs and either created their own exchanges or partnered with the federal government.

Arkansas saw the steepest decline, from 22.5 percent uninsured in 2013 to 12.4 percent this year. Kentucky was second, going from 20.4 percent uninsured to 11.9 percent.

Angela de Rocha, spokeswoman for the Kansas Department of Aging and Disability Services, said Medicaid enrollment had increased by 6 percent in the state in the past year.

“This indicates access to Medicaid is not driving any reported increase in the number of uninsured in our state,” she said. “Rather, any reported increase in the uninsured most likely is driven by increasing costs and lack of access to private insurance that are a result of Affordable Care Act mandates and requirements.”