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Commonwealth Fund Evaluates Progress, Disparities in Health Insurance Coverage

June 16, 2021

A recent report from the Commonwealth Fund indicated coverage gains from the Affordable Care Act (ACA) helped reduce U.S. racial and ethnic disparities in health insurance, particularly in states that expanded their Medicaid programs.

Between 2013 and 2019, the coverage gap between Black and White adults dropped by 4.6 percent, while the gap between Latinx/Hispanic and White adults fell by 9 percentage points, the report notes.

The study evaluated the number of people between the ages of 19 and 64 who had health insurance and contact with a health care provider.

In Pennsylvania, the report indicated increased health coverage for Black, Latinx/Hispanic, and White residents. From 2013 to 2019, uninsured rates declined from 21.8 percent (Black adults), 28.3 percent (Latinx/Hispanic adults), and 11 percent (White adults) to 9.2 percent, 17.9 percent, and 6.5 percent, respectively

The expansion of Medicaid through the ACA accelerated coverage gains for Black and Latinx/Hispanic adults, particularly between 2013 and 2016, the report notes. In expansion states, the uninsured rate among Black and Latinx/Hispanic adults dropped by 11.3 percentage points and 16.3 percentage points, respectively.

The report notes that the coverage gains began to stall after 2016 and that the COVID-19 pandemic may impact progress moving forward. However, the federal government recently has offered new incentives to increase coverage through the American Rescue Plan Act, including additional funding for states to expand their Medicaid programs and subsidies for people to purchase health coverage.

“New policies to expand health insurance coverage, and to help those who are eligible to enroll, will be necessary to cover more U.S. adults and further narrow racial and ethnic disparities,” the report notes.

HAP continues to advocate for policies and legislation that increase access to care for all Pennsylvanians. HAP also is committed to addressing racial and ethnic disparities in health coverage that prevent patients from receiving the care they need in their communities.

For more information, contact Jolene Calla, Esq., HAP’s vice president, health care finance and insurance.