The U.S. Census Bureau reported last week that Georgia has the fourth highest uninsured rate in the nation after the most recent upward tick to 13.4%.
Georgia, which previously rested at 12.9% of the population uninsured, follows Texas, Oklahoma, and Alaska. The rate for Georgia is almost 5% higher than the national average of 8.8%. Just ahead of the implementation of the Affordable Care Act in 2010, 17% of Americans did not have health insurance.
Georgia was one of 14 states that saw a rise in its uninsured rate last year. The uninsured rate fell in three states — California, New York and Louisiana, Georgia Health News reported.
The Georgia numbers are “mixed news,’’ said Bill Custer, a health insurance expert at Georgia State University. “The change is small enough, it may just be statistical noise.’’
Two forces worked to hold the uninsured rate fairly steady, Custer said. Individuals faced sharp premium increases for coverage in the insurance exchange, but the job market was good, so more people had opportunities for employer-based health benefits, he said.
“Other states have solidified their individual insurance markets and expanded Medicaid, and increased health care coverage,’’ Custer said.
Nation wide, in 2017, non-Hispanic whites had the lowest uninsured rate among race and Hispanic-origin groups (6.3 percent). The uninsured rates for blacks and Asians were 10.6 percent and 7.3 percent, respectively. Hispanics had the highest uninsured rate (16.1 percent), according to the U.S. Census.
The Census Bureau also reported that 28.5 million Americans did not have health insurance at any point in 2017, which was roughly the same from the previous year.