New figures show percentage of N.C.‘s uninsured by county, demographics

From the press release from the North Carolina Institute of Medicine:

RALEIGH – New data from the North Carolina Institute of Medicine (NCIOM), an independent agency focused on solving major health issues facing the state, shows that 291,000 North Carolinians were added to the ranks of the uninsured between 2004-2005 and 2009-2010, representing an increase of 2.4 percent of the population. Almost one out of every five non-elderly people in North Carolina did not have health insurance in 2009-2010.

The new data analyzes the state’s 1.6 million uninsured residents, highlighting demographic trends related to age, income, employment status, education and other defining characteristics. County-level estimates provide further insights into the uninsured population. Full results, including a list of county-by-county data, are available at www.nciom.org.

“This new data will provide valuable insights as we strive to improve the health of North Carolinians,” said Pam Silberman, president of the North Carolina Institute of Medicine. “Policymakers, health care professionals, insurers and community groups can use this information to better address the needs of the uninsured and the factors contributing to North Carolinians living without health insurance.”

Two-thirds of the uninsured live in families where there is at least one full-time worker. However, the percentage of uninsured who live in families with no workers, part-time workers and only one full-time worker has increased 12 percentage points over 5 years. This rise is likely a reflection of the recession. In North Carolina, 10.3 percent of children are not covered by health insurance. That figure represents a drop 1.6 percentage points over five years.

More than 66 percent of the state’s uninsured live in urban areas. In fact, the number of uninsured residents in rural areas has dropped 4.2 percentage points over five years. NCIOM’s estimates show that Greene County had the state’s highest rate at 25 percent, while Catawba County had the lowest rate at 16.5 percent.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act could extend coverage to many of the uninsured. If upheld by the courts, approximately 676,00 uninsured North Carolinians with incomes below 138 percent of the federal poverty level may be eligible for Medicaid coverage. In addition, many of the 750,000 uninsured North Carolinians with incomes below 400 percent of the federal poverty level will be eligible for subsidies to purchase health insurance coverage through a newly created Health Benefits Exchange.

County-level estimates were developed using data from the U.S. Census Bureau and the North Carolina Employment Security Commission. Estimates are not directly comparable to previously published NCIOM/Sheps Center estimates due to slight changes in the methodology.

About the North Carolina Institute of Medicine:
The North Carolina Institute of Medicine (NCIOM) is an independent, quasi-state agency that was chartered by the North Carolina General Assembly in 1983 to provide balanced, nonpartisan information on issues of relevance to the health of North Carolina’s population. The NCIOM convenes task forces of knowledgeable and interested individuals to study complex health issues facing the state in order to develop workable solutions to address these issues to improve health, health care access, and quality of health care in North Carolina. Visit www.nciom.org for more information.


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