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By Natalie Villacorta
By Natalie Villacorta
The number of uninsured children and people under the age of 65 in Rhode Island has remained steady over the past several years. According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2012 Current Population Survey released Sept. 17, about 125,000 nonelderly Rhode Islanders did not have health insurance from 2011-2012, including about 13,000 children. These numbers are not statistically different from the 2009-2010 data.
Rhode Island has the 15th lowest rate of uninsured people in the nation — with 14.3 percent uninsured compared to the national average of 18 percent. However, the state has the highest uninsured population in New England, falling behind states such as Massachusetts with 4.3 percent uninsured and Vermont with 9.2 percent uninsured, according to a press release from the Economic Progress Institute about the census data.
The state remains ranked 10th in the nation for children’s health insurance coverage with only 6 percent of children lacking health insurance while the national average rate was 9.4 percent between 2010 and 2012. Elizabeth Burke Bryant, executive director of Rhode Island Kids Count called the data “good news for Rhode Island children” in a press release.
“For nearly two decades, Rhode Island has been a leader in making sure that our kids have health coverage. As Rhode Island implements the Affordable Care Act, it is critical to build upon the success of RIte Care, which provides our children and families with access to quality health care,” Bryant said. RIte Care is the state’s Medicaid/Child’s Health Insurance Program, covering over a third of children in the state during 2010 to 2012, according to the Kids Count press release.
The number of uninsured people in the state is expected to fall with the implementation of the Affordable Care Act. About 45,000 people will qualify for health insurance through the Medicaid expansion. Those whose incomes are too high to qualify for Medicaid but cannot obtain affordable coverage through their employers will be able to purchase insurance on the health insurance marketplace. About 80 percent of the 44,000 Rhode Islanders who will obtain coverage on the exchange will be eligible for federal subsidies to offset their costs.