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September 12, 2012

Census: Fewer Virginians Lacked Health Insurance in 2011, But More Are Now in Poverty

Failure to Implement Affordable Care Act Would Threaten Progress

The share of Virginians without health insurance dropped last year, according to preliminary Census Bureau figures released today. About 1,066,000 Virginians – 13.4 percent of the population – did not have health insurance coverage in 2011, a decrease of 4.8percent from 2010.

“After years of stagnant or rising numbers of uninsured, we are beginning to see the trend reverse,” said Michael Cassidy, President and CEO of The Commonwealth Institute.  Significantly,the data shows an almost 30 percent decline in the number of uninsured children, largely driven by increased enrollment of low-income kids in Medicaid and FAMIS.

However, the data also shows that even fewer Virginians are getting their health coverage at work, continuing a decade-long trend of decreasing workplace coverage. In 2011, fewer than 60 percent of Virginians got health insurance through their work. In 2000, almost 70 percent did. Historically, Virginia had enjoyed a high rate of employer coverage.

Nationally, the number of Americans without health insurance fell by 3.4 percent. This improved coverage is largely the result of the Affordable Care Act, which already allows young adults to stay on their parents’ private health insurance plans until age 26.

In addition, the new Census data also showed that a higher number of Virginians now live in poverty. One in every nineVirginians lived in poverty in 2011, including 72,000 who fell into poverty last year. Nationwide, one in sevenlived in poverty.

“Taken together, the data on insurance and poverty underscore the urgency for Virginiato implement the provisions of the Affordable Care Act, including the expansion of Medicaid and the creation of a consumer-friendly health benefit exchange,” says Cassidy. “We have the chance to help those who can’t afford health insurance receive the care they need at a very low cost to the state while boosting Virginia’s economy at the same time.  Creating those health coverage options for all Virginians is the right choice for our state.”

On September 20, the Census Bureau will release additional 2011 data as part of the American Community Survey, a much larger survey with a more comprehensive set of state-level data.

The Commonwealth Institute

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