Study: Colorado Medicaid expansion greatly reduced uninsured rate, especially for low-income adults

DENVER – A new academic study shows that Colorado’s decision to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act greatly reduced the uninsured rate in the state—particularly among low-income adults and people living in rural parts of the state.

The shared of uninsured low-income adults living in non-metro counties fell by 29 percent – from 42 percent in 2008-09 to 13 percent in 2015-16 – which was the largest drop among that group out of any state in the country, according to the study: “Health Insurance Coverage in Small Towns and Rural America: The Role of Medicaid Expansion.”

The research and report were done by Georgetown University’s Center for Children and Families and the University of North Carolina’s NC Rural Health Research Program.

The report looked at differences in uninsured rates, particularly among low-income (those making up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level) and rural-living individuals, between states that opted to expand Medicaid under the ACA before the end of 2014 and states that chose not to. Colorado’s Medicaid expansion took effect Jan. 1, 2014.

The rural adult uninsured rate was just 13 percent as of 2015-16, while the metro adult uninsured rate was 11 percent—something the researchers said was a positive product of the state’s decision to expand Medicaid when it did.

They additionally noted that “none of the non-expansion states has experienced a drop in the uninsured rate” among rural adults to the magnitude states that opted to expand the program did.

The uninsured rate among low-income adults living in metro areas of Colorado dropped as well, according to the report. The rate went from 29 percent in 2008-09 to 11 percent in 2015-16, a decrease of 18 percent.

When looking at low-income adults from both rural and metro parts of the state, the decline in the uninsured rate statewide fell by 20 percent, from 31 percent to 12 percent, over that time period.

The report found that for low-income, rural-living adults in states that expanded Medicaid, their uninsured rates fell far more drastically – from 35 percent to 16 percent – than they did in states that chose not to expand. For those states, the uninsured rate fell just 6 percent over the same timeframe.

Read the full study by clicking here.

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