New figures released today by the US Census Bureau reveal some good news about health insurance coverage in the District of Columbia. The share of residents without insurance stood at
9.8 percent in 2007-2008, a significant decline from 12.9 percent in 2000-2001. When compared with states, DC is in the top fifth in its insurance coverage rate. (Massachusetts has the lowest uninsured rate, at 5.4 percent.)
The reduction in uninsured DC residents reflects greater access to government health insurance programs. Some 22 percent of DC residents had public health coverage in 2007-2008, up from 17 percent in 2000-2001. (The share of residents with employer-provided health insurance was basically the same in the two periods.) The increase in public health insurance receipt in DC likely reflects the creation of the DC HealthCare Alliance in 2001, which provides coverage to uninsured residents below 200 percent of poverty who are not eligible for other public programs. Roughly 40,000 DC residents will be served by the Alliance in 2010. The Alliance complements the District’s Medicaid program, which primarily serves low-income families with children and residents who are either elderly or disabled.
In addition, the District expanded health insurance for low-income families with children in its Medicaid program over the past decade. Medicaid eligibility for children was raised from 200 percent of poverty to 300 percent of poverty.