Health insurance statistics released Tuesday by the U.S. Census Bureau indicate that the rate of uninsured Americans dropped in 47 states last year, including Alabama.
The data reveals only one in 10 Alabamians lacked health insurance coverage in 2015, an improvement from the state’s 13.6 percent uninsured rate in 2013, the last year before the Affordable Care Act took full effect.
Tuesday’s numbers come in the midst of a volatile election season, where citizens across the country continue to weigh the pros and cons of the Affordable Care Act, often called Obamacare, as they decide who they’re voting for in November.
For some, Tuesday’s numbers serve as a reminder for the need for an expanded Medicaid program in the state.
“[The] good news about health coverage in Alabama would be even better if the state had expanded Medicaid,” said Alabama Arise State Coordinator Kimble Forrister. “More Alabamians have coverage today than in 2013, and the Affordable Care Act deserves much of the credit for those gains. Nearly 200,000 Alabamians have signed up for health insurance through the ACA marketplace. Many of them have coverage for the first time, and all of them now have the peace of mind that comes with knowing that a medical emergency won’t lead to financial ruin.”
According to Forrister, Medicaid expansion would close the coverage gap for more than 300,000 uninsured across Alabama.
“That would mean a more productive workforce, thousands of new jobs and big state savings on mental health care and other services,” Forrister explained.
“We’re being left out. States like Kentucky and West Virginia that have expanded Medicaid have much lower uninsured rates than those that haven’t. They’re also enjoying the job creation and cost savings that come from injecting new federal money into their budgets and economies. It’s time for Alabama to expand Medicaid and reap those same benefits.”