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Is Red Tape Keeping Ohioans from Health Care Coverage?

About 58,000 more Ohioans went without health care coverage in 2018 compared to 2017. (md3d/Adobe Stock)
About 58,000 more Ohioans went without health care coverage in 2018 compared to 2017. (md3d/Adobe Stock)
September 13, 2019

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Some researchers believe red tape might be behind the rising number of Ohioans without health-care coverage.

New census data reveals Ohio's uninsured rate edged up a half-percentage point between 2017 to 2018 to 6.5% – that's about 58,000 more people without health coverage. Emily Campbell, associate director with The Center for Community Solutions in Cleveland contends it's become more difficult to connect to affordable health insurance options.

"For the last year, we've seen lack of investment in things like navigators that help people connect to affordable health insurance,” says Campbell. “We saw a big decrease in advertising around open enrollment and the Medicaid coverage that is available thanks to Medicaid expansion."

The Trump administration slashed funding for advertising and the health-care navigators who help people enroll in the marketplace created under the Affordable Care Act. Nationally, the uninsured rate has seen its first increase since 2009 – from 7.9% to 8.5%.

The data also shows a slight increase in the number of children without health insurance. Campbell says that could indicate enrollment challenges, and notes that kids are much more likely to have health coverage if their parents do as well.

"Often we see people on a family plan, but those eligibility amounts are different for children and parents,” says Campbell. “So, even if the parents earn too much to be eligible for Medicaid, their children may still be able to enroll under the state Children's Health Insurance Program."

The Census Bureau says eight states saw increases in their uninsured rates, all less than one percentage point.

Disclosure: The Center for Community Solutions contributes to our fund for reporting on Budget Policy & Priorities, Health Issues, Poverty Issues, Welfare Reform. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.
Mary Schuermann Kuhlman, Public News Service - OH