Data released today by the U.S. Census Bureau shows Arkansas’s rate of total uninsured declined by 50 percent between 2013 and 2016. The Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion — also known as the private option and now rebranded as Arkansas Works — was approved by the state legislature in 2013.
Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families highlights another remarkable figure in the Census data: “Arkansas’s uninsured rate for children dropped to just 4 percent in 2016, a new record.”
Even before the expansion engendered by Obamacare, Arkansas did a better job insuring its children than many Southern states, thanks to the largely Medicaid-funded ARKids program instituted in the late 1990s. However, the ACA-fueled surge in adult enrollment in Arkansas Works and individual insurance plans helped boost enrollment in ARKids as well. As Arkansas Advocates Health Policy Director Marquita Little writes, “more children have enrolled in coverage as their parents signed-up for their own plans under the ACA.
The figures are a success story — but they also indicate that millions of Americans don’t have insurance even under the ACA. And, as the above graph indicates, the year-to-year decline in the national rate of uninsured seems to have slowed somewhat. That’s for various reasons, including the ongoing refusal of many red states to sign up for Medicaid expansion, as well as rising premiums in the individual marketplace in some areas.