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Big Declines in Number of Uninsured Californians

Shannon McConville September 17, 2015

Nearly 2 million more Californians had health insurance coverage in 2014 than in 2013, according to newly released US Census data. Still, about 4.7 million Californians reported they were uninsured in 2014.

The percentage of Californians without health insurance coverage dropped nearly 5 points in the first year the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was implemented—from 17.2% to 12.4%. Declines were even more dramatic among adults age 18 to 64, who benefited the most from the ACA coverage expansions. Among this group, uninsurance rates declined nearly 7 percentage points—from about 24% in 2013 to about 17.3% in 2014.

Declines in uninsurance rates occurred across all racial/ethnic groups, with the largest drops among Latinos (6.5% overall and 9.2% adults age 18 to 64), followed by African Americans (5.7% overall and 8.1% adults age 18 to 64) and Asian Americans (4.9% overall and 6.7% adults age 18 to 64). Despite coverage gains, Latinos continue to have the highest proportion of residents without health insurance, with about 28% of adults age 18 to 64 reporting no coverage.

Changes in uninsurance rates also varied across California counties. The largest declines were in parts of the Central Valley and Monterey County, where the percentage of residents without insurance dropped by more than 6%. The counties that experienced the largest declines include Stanislaus (8.5%), Monterey (6.7%), and Merced (6.4%). Los Angeles County, home to the largest number of residents without health insurance in the state, had more than half a million fewer residents reporting they were uninsured in 2014 than in 2013. Generally, counties with higher shares of uninsured residents in 2013 experienced the largest declines.

California experienced one of the largest declines in the proportion of residents without health insurance coverage across the nation. But the percentage of Californians who remain uninsured is still above the national average – and continues to be higher than in several states that have not expanded their Medicaid programs.

Chart Source (TOP): American Community Survey, One Year Files for 2014 and 2015 accessed at American Factfinder.

Chart Notes (TOP): Individuals are considered to be uninsured if they do not have coverage at the time of the survey. The uninsurance rates presented do not account for the margin of error associated with the estimates. For the state estimates by race the margin of errors range from about 0.1% – 0.5%. The margins of error are larger for the county-level estimates and are larger for counties with smaller populations.

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