(Charleston, WV) After an increase in the number of West Virginians without health insurance in 2017, the number was unchanged in 2018, further stalling the historic gains made under the Affordable Care Act, according to Census data released today.
Today’s data release shows that 114,000 West Virginians lacked health insurance in 2018, a statistically insignificant change from 2017. West Virginia’s uninsured rate was 6.4 percent in 2018. Before passage of the Affordable Care Act and the state’s expansion of Medicaid, West Virginia’s uninsured rate was 13.4 percent, with 255,000 people without health insurance coverage.
While West Virginia’s uninsured rate has dropped sharply since the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, progress in reducing the number of uninsured has stalled in recent years. The number of people in West Virginia without health insurance has increased by 48,000 since 2016, with the uninsured rate increasing by 1.1 percentage points. Recent efforts by the legislature to enact Medicaid work reporting requirements were averted this year but, if passed, are likely to cause even more West Virginians to lose coverage.
“West Virginia should be proud of the progress made in reducing the number of people who don’t have access to healthcare,” said Sean O’Leary, Senior Policy Analyst with the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy. “Over 114,000 people in the state are still uninsured, and with recent gains in coverage beginning to be lost, there is still work to be done to make sure every West Virginian has access to quality and affordable healthcare coverage.”
“We are pleased that today’s numbers do not show a statistically significant decline in the number of uninsured West Virginians between 2017 and 2018,” state Jessica Ice, Executive Director of West Virginians for Affordable Health Care. “We must, however, remain diligent to not allow our uninsured rates to slip back to pre-Affordable Care Act numbers nor artificially restrict access to vital insurance programs such as Medicaid through harmful policies.”
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