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Health & Wealth
KBIA’s Health & Wealth Desk covers the economy and health of rural and underserved communities in Missouri and beyond. The team produces a weekly radio segment, as well as in-depth features and regular blog posts. The reporting desk is funded by a grant from the University of Missouri, and the Missouri Foundation for Health.Contact the Health & Wealth desk.

New Survey Shows More Missourians Insured

United States Census Bureau

The number of uninsured residents in Missouri and throughout the U.S. is down, according to the 2014 American Community Survey. The United States Census Bureau released the survey Wednesday as the first compilation of data since the introduction of the Affordable Care Act.

The survey showed 8.8 million fewer Americans were uninsured under the first year of the Affordable Care Act. Dr. Timothy McBride, a health economist at Washington University in St. Louis, said it's the first national report on the ACA.

"Overall it confirms probably a lot of what we expected, it's about a 20 percent in the uninsurance rate nationwide so it confirms that the general approach of the Affordable Care Act is working," he said.

McBride said in Missouri there wasn't as big of a difference. The survey only shows 79,000 more Missourians became insured in 2014.

"In 2014, Missouri actually had an actually pretty small drop in the percentage of people without health insurance, it's only about a percentage point," he said.

Ryan Barker of the Missouri Foundation for Health said the change might have been larger if Missouri had expanded Medicaid.

"The estimate is that 250,000 to 300,000 uninsured would have gained coverage from the Medicaid expansion," Barker said.

He also said Missouri's rate of uninsured residents will never be as low as states that have expanded Medicaid, like Iowa and Illinois.

In the survey, Missouri's 11.7 percent uninsured rate was equal to the national average. Barker said he hopes that rate will decline even further in the next enrollment period of the ACA that begins this November.

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