Thursday, April 27, 2017

Health Insurance: Who’s covered in Utah?

Census Bureau Estimates Provide Answers about Utah Health Insurance Coverage


By Lecia Parks Langston, Senior Economist

“Most Americans want health insurance.” Jacob Lew

The U.S. Census Bureau just published its Small Area Health Insurance Estimates (SAHIE) for counties and states while the national discussion on health care laws receives renewed attention. Is this a coincidence? Yes, but a timely one. This post examines how health insurance coverage for Utahns has changed and also the demographics of who has coverage and who does not.

Tracking Utahns Under 65 Years of Age

Small Area Health Insurance Estimates cover the population under 65 years of age. Of course, virtually all residents 65 and older are covered by government-provided Medicare. Because the estimates date back to 2008, two years before the signing of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the available figures provide an indication of the effect of the ACA on health insurance coverage in Utah and its counties.

More Utahns have Health Insurance

Between 2008 and 2015, the number of Utahns under 65 years old covered by health insurance increased by 284,000. Not only did the actual covered increase, but the share of non-senior population with health insurance also gained ground expanding from less than 84 percent to more than 88 percent — an increase of 4.7 percentage points.

Only Millard County experienced a very slight 0.3 percentage point decline in health insurance coverage although the actual number of persons covered increased by 113. Daggett, Rich, Kane and Grand counties showed the highest growth in under-65 coverage; each showed increases of at least 9 percentage points.

In 2015, counties in northern Utah generally showed the highest level of non-senior health insurance coverage. In Morgan, Davis, Box Elder, Tooele and Cache counties, health insurance rates top 90 percent. On the other end of the scale, rural counties in central and southern Utah display the lowest coverage. In San Juan, Millard, Duchesne and Wayne counties, health insurance rates for those under 65 measured 83 percent or less.

Those under 19 saw the greatest gains. Coverage rates for these young people increased from 87 percent in 2008 to 93 percent in 2015. Utah males experienced a larger gain in coverage between 2008 and 2015 (5 percentage points) than did females (4 percentage points), although females were more likely than men to carry health insurance in both years. Health insurance rates for those with the lowest incomes showed the most improvement (10.4 percentage points). However, their coverage shares remain roughly 10 points below average.

Wait, There’s More…



The American Community Survey provides even more information about health insurance coverage than do the SAHIE figures. The visualization that accompanies this post provides state and county-level health insurance coverage averages for the 2011 to 2015 period (the most recent data available). The Census Bureau only publishes five-year averages for small counties. Therefore, to provide comparability across the board, the visualization uses these averages for all areas.

• Roughly two-thirds of Utahns have private health insurance coverage only, 13 percent have no coverage, 12 percent have a combination of publicly-provided health insurance (such as Medicaid and Medicare) and 9 percent have a combination of private and public coverage.

• Again, almost all seniors have health insurance coverage. Roughly 63 percent of Utah’s population over age 65 have both public and private coverage (such as a Medicare supplement). Another 33 percent have public insurance only.

• Next to seniors, young Utahns under 19 years of age show the highest level of health insurance coverage (91 percent). They also display the second-highest publicly-insured coverage (17 percent).

• Approximately 56 percent of Utahns are only covered by an employer-based plan.

• Utahns are least likely to carry health insurance between the ages of 25 and 34 (79 percent). After age 26, children are no longer afforded the opportunity to be covered under their parents’ policies.

• Utah women are more likely than men to have health insurance coverage.

• Those with a disability are more likely to be covered by health insurance.

• As in many other arenas, education pays when it comes to having health insurance. Those with a bachelor’s degree or higher show the highest health-insurance rates (94 percent). Only 63 percent of Utahns with less than a high school education have health insurance of any kind.

• Those out of the labor force actually have a higher health insurance rate than those in the labor force. However, keep in mind that almost all individuals over 65 years of age are covered by Medicare and most are no longer part of the labor force.

• Utah workers who work year-round and full-time are more likely to carry health insurance than those who work less time.

• Health insurance coverage correlates directly with income. More than 94 percent of household with yearly incomes of $100,000 or more are insured compared to only 75 percent of households with annual incomes under $25,000.

• White, non-Hispanics are most likely to have health insurance in Utah (91 percent). Asians show the next highest insurance rate among Utah’s racial and ethnic groups. Only 67 percent of Latinos have health insurance.

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