Uninsurance Rates Decline for Californians in 2017 – What Will the Future Bring? 

Author Details

Cary Sanders

Director of Policy Analysis
Organization: California Pan-Ethnic Health Network

Go to California Pan-Ethnic Health Network

Despite rising uninsurance rates nationally, a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau shows that California continued to make historic gains in the effort to reduce the state’s uninsured rate. According to the data released, California’s uninsured rate fell to a new historic low of 7.2 percent in 2017, which represents a decline of 10 percentage points from the pre-Affordable Care Act rate of 17.2 percent. The report highlighted California and two other states, Louisiana and New York, as states that saw a reduction in their uninsured rate in 2017, while 34 other states had uninsured rates that remained unchanged. 
An analysis of the numbers by CPEHN showed California’s communities of color also continued to see gains in rates of health care coverage with a decline in uninsurance rates for Latinos, Asians, and Native Hawaiian Pacific Islanders, despite federal efforts to sabotage the ACA. These positive numbers are due in part to the proactive steps California has taken despite federal interference, to keep insurance premiums low and make consumers aware of their eligibility for low or no-cost health care coverage in Medi-Cal and Covered California. Covered California in particular was recognized nationally for its targeted outreach and media activities to reach Latinos, African Americans, Asian/Pacific Islanders and LGBTQ communities throughout the state. 

Percentage of Uninsured Californians by Race/Ethnicity: 2016 and 2017

Race/Ethnicity 2016 2017 Change
White 6.6% 6.5% 0.1
Black 5.6% 5.7% -0.1
American Indian/Alaska Native 7.9% 8.2% -0.3
Asian 4.6% 4.5% 0.1
Native Hawaiian Pacific Islander 5.8% 5.2% 0.6
Hispanic (non White) 12.1% 11.6% 0.5

While this is positive news, the impact of federal policies on enrollment and uninsurance rates for communities of color in 2018 and beyond may tell a different story. The Trump Administration’s lack of enforcement of the individual mandate coupled with harsher immigration policies (including proposed changes to “public charge” rules regarding the use of public benefits) is predicted to further dampen enrollment rates in public programs, particularly for California’s communities of color. 

What you can do! Open enrollment for subsidized health insurance in Covered California begins October 15, 2018 and runs through January 15, 2019. Stay tuned for additional information from CPEHN on enrollment opportunities and the impact of federal policies on the state’s uninsurance rates for communities of color in California. 

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