The number of Americans without health insurance continues to fall dramatically, according to the latest census figures released Thursday.
And that fact can be seen in Georgia and right here in Hall County.
“Improvements in uninsured and poverty levels follow a decline in unemployment and underemployment,” said Tim Evans, vice president of economic development at the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce. “More good paying jobs mean access to better income and employer-sponsored insurance benefit programs. The job market and economy for Hall County citizens are much better than just a few years ago.”
The metro Gainesville jobless rate was 5.5 percent in July.
In Hall, 17.6 percent of residents remained uninsured in 2014, or about 33,281 people, but that’s down from 20.7 percent, or 35,548 people, in 2013.
The county’s rate, however, is higher than averages for the state, at 15.8 percent, and nation, at 10.4 percent.
That fact is what keeps Dr. Richard Bennett focused on the patients that the Good News Clinics in Gainesville, where he serves as president of the board.
“ … There is still a tremendous need as far as people who don’t qualify for government assistance,” Bennett said. “We’ve definitely been a safety net … there’s still going to be a segment of the population that’s going to be in need.”
Across the nation, about 55 percent of insured individuals receive health coverage through their employer, 19.5 percent through Medicaid, 16 percent through Medicare, 14.6 percent through private direct purchase, and 4.5 percent receive military care.
Private coverage rates increased 1.8 percent from 2013 to 2014, and government-subsidized insurance rates were up 2 percent to 36.5 percent overall.
While the rate of uninsured Americans has steadily fallen since the Affordable Care Act became law, other variables are also at play.
“There are too many factors in this equation, such as population growth, employment rates, incidents of accidents or illness, etc., to attribute any effect on the market to one specific cause,” said Sean Couch, a spokesman for the Northeast Georgia Health System. “What we can say with certainty is we’re proud Northeast Georgia Health System cared for more people in 2014 than 2013, and we continue to provide care to our patients regardless of their ability to pay. In fact, the amount of indigent care we provide our community continues to increase year after year.”
Rates of those without health insurance
2014: 15.8 percent (1.56 million people)
2013: 18.8 percent (1.84 million people)
2014: 17.6 percent (33,281 people)
2013: 20.7 percent (35,548 people)
2014: 10.4 percent (33 million people)
2013: 13.3 percent (41.8 million people)