Updated statistics on health insurance coverage released Tuesday, September 10, by the U.S. Census Bureau show that the number of people in Arkansas who were uninsured increased from 232,000 in 2017 to 244,000 in 2018, but this change was not statistically significant. The uninsured rate in Arkansas held steady at 8.2%, remaining below the national average of 8.5%. However, the results of the Census Bureau’s survey on the uninsured signal a considerable shift in coverage rates nationally, with nearly two million more people uninsured in 2018.
Neighboring states Tennessee and Texas ― the latter has the highest uninsured rate in the nation at nearly 18% ― saw significant increases from 2017 to 2018 in their uninsured rates.
The increase in the national uninsured rate is the first observed since the major coverage expansion provisions in the Affordable Care Act, including Medicaid expansion, became effective in 2014. There was a noticeable decline in populations covered by Medicaid nationally, reflecting income mobility due to an improved economy and enhanced scrutiny by states of eligibility rolls. Although further examination is needed, overall increases in uninsured rates nationally suggest that the elimination of the individual mandate and availability of affordable coverage options may be having an impact.
More state-based detail is expected to be released later this month, and those data should provide additional context about populations or regions in Arkansas experiencing changes in coverage.