Census Bureau: Health insurance coverage increased across Michigan

April 11, 2019

Originally Published by Crain's Detroit 

All Michigan counties saw the percentage of people without health care insurance decline, and in most cases decline dramatically, since 2013, according to a study released by the U.S. Census Bureau.

Most largely rural counties lagged urban counties with still higher rates of uninsured people, though, except for Livingston County.

Defined by the Census Bureau as a mostly rural county, Livingston had the lowest rate of uninsured people in Michigan. Just 4.1 percent of the county's populace was uninsured in 2017, according to the Census Bureau, and that was down from 8.9 percent in 2013.

Mackinac County, on the other hand, had had the highest percentage of residents uncovered with health insurance at 11.5 percent in 2017. But even that was a significant improvement over 2013 when 20 percent of the county's population lacked health insurance.

The Census Bureau study looked at the change in insurance coverage in all of the nation's counties between 2013 — the year before the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act took full effect — and 2017. The study was of people younger than 65. At 65 a person is eligible for health insurance under Medicare.

Most of those states, like Michigan, which expanded Medicaid eligibility, saw far lower rates of uninsured residents than states that did not. One exception was Arizona, where 12.1 percent of its residents were uninsured in 2017, but that was down from 20 percent in 2013. The state was 39th overall (40th when the District of Columbia is included) in terms of people still uncovered.

Michigan was the eighth-lowest state in terms of people still without coverage (ninth when D.C. is included) with 6.1 percent of the population not having health insurance. In 2013 the state had 12.9 percent uninsured.

Wayne County, the state's largest, had just 6.8 percent of its residents without health insurance in 2017, down from 15 percent in in 2013.

Massachusetts had the lowest overall percentage of uninsured residents at 3.3 percent in 2017 and that was down from 4.3 percent in 2013.

Texas had the highest percentage of residents without coverage at 19.4 percent. That was down from 24.8 percent in 2013. Texas also had Gaines County which had the largest percentage of people without health insurance at 33.7 percent in 2017. That was just 0.5 percentage points lower than in 2013.