California’s Health Care Coverage Gains Have Continued Into 2015, New Federal Numbers Show

Evidence that health care reform is working in California keeps pouring in.

The federal government has released new data on health care coverage from the National Health Interview Survey. These new numbers show that fewer than 1 in 10 Californians under age 65 were uninsured during the first six months of 2015. This is down by half from 2013, when nearly 1 in 5 nonelderly Californians lacked coverage.

The Share of Nonelderly Californians Who Are Uninsured Has Continued to Decline

The reason for this gain in coverage is clear: Last year, California fully implemented the reforms and coverage expansions brought about by the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) of 2010. This included strengthening Medi-Cal — our state’s Medicaid program — so that it reaches more residents who couldn’t otherwise afford health insurance.

Even with this substantial progress to date, California still can do more to reduce the number of Californians who face the health and financial consequences of being uninsured. This includes strengthening outreach efforts as well as boosting coverage options for undocumented immigrants. While undocumented children and youth will soon be able to sign up for comprehensive Medi-Cal coverage (thanks to a recent state policy change), undocumented adults generally remain ineligible for such coverage. In addition, undocumented immigrants can’t buy health insurance through Covered California, the state’s health care marketplace established under the ACA. It’s anticipated that state Senator Ricardo Lara will seek to further expand coverage for undocumented immigrants next year through Senate Bill 10, giving lawmakers and Governor Brown another opportunity to broaden the positive impact of federal health care reform in California.

— Scott Graves