As Nation's Uninsured Rate Drops, Texas Falls Farther Behind

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The percentage of uninsured Americans has dropped to 13.4 percent – the lowest it has been since Gallup started tracking uninsured rates in 2008. Just before the federal health insurance marketplace opened in 2013, the rate was 18 percent.

Unfortunately, the drop in the uninsured rate has been much lower in Texas. While the national uninsured rate has decreased by 3.66 percentage points, Texas's uninsured rate dropped by only 1.99 percent. Only nine states saw smaller decreases in their uninsured rates.

This leaves Texas with the highest uninsured rate in the nation, and by an even wider margin than before.

There's more after the jump.Before the implementation of Obamacare, Texas already had the highest uninsured rate in the nation of 26.8 percent. Now that Obamacare has kicked in, the rate has dropped to 24.81 percent. But that rate is over 10 points higher than the national average. Prior to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), Texas's uninsured rate was less than 9 points higher than the national average.

A major reason that Texas is falling farther behind is the fact that Rick Perry and other Republican lawmakers refused to accept a Medicaid expansion. Had the state expanded Medicaid, over 1 million additional people could have been insured – more than doubling the number of people enrolling in the past year.

California, for instance, once had one of the highest uninsured rates in the nation at 21 percent. But California chose to expand Medicaid. Now, post-ACA and post-Medicaid expansion, the uninsured rate has dropped almost 7 points, putting California's uninsured rate at 14.26 percent – only slightly higher than the national average.

But despite Texas lawmakers' resistance to the ACA, it is indisputably working – both in the state and even more so around the country. The fact that Texas's uninsured rate dropped by 2 percent despite the absence of a Medicaid expansion, the barriers to enrollment outreach, and the misinformation perpetrated by the media and state politicians is a testament to Obamacare's initial success. Over time, as more people become familiar with the law, the federal marketplace and what they stand to gain, the rate will likely continue to drop.

Meanwhile, Ted Cruz remains in denial. “Four years ago, before the law was implemented, it was possible to have good-faith disagreements about whether the law would work,” Cruz told Politico. “Today, seeing the utter disaster that has played out … to me, it is the essence of pragmatism to realize that the law isn't working, and to repeal it and start over.”  

About Author

Emily Cadik

Emily is a Texas ex-pat and proud Longhorn living in Washington, DC, where she remains connected to the Lone Star State through her work on BOR and her enthusiasm for breakfast tacos. She works on affordable housing policy, and writes about health care, poverty and other social justice issues.

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