New U.S. Census Bureau data shows a shift in health coverage from private health insurers to government-funded programs such as Medicare and Medicaid between 2008 and 2012.
A Census report released Thursday focused on people too young to qualify for Medicare, meaning those 64 and younger, though in some cases a person younger than 65 can qualify.
In that age group, the percentage of Connecticut residents with private health insurance dropped steadily: 75.6 percent in 2008; 72.1 percent in 2010; 70 percent last year. At the same time, the percentage covered by government-funded health insurance programs, such as Medicaid, increased steadily: 14.4 percent in 2008; 17.6 percent in 2010; 19.5 percent last year.
Connecticut was one of 13 states in which the increase in public coverage was enough to offset a loss of private insurance as companies laid off workers during and after the recession, according to Census data. The others were Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Delaware, Idaho, Maine, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Utah, Vermont and Wyoming.
The percentage of Connecticut residents 64 and younger who are uninsured edged up from 2008 to 2012: 10 percent in 2008; 10.4 percent in 2010; 10.5 percent in 2012.
The overall trend in Connecticut — from private health coverage to public health coverage — was similar to the trend in the rest of the U.S. There are some differences, however. Connecticut has greater rates of people who have private health coverage, slightly lower rates of public health coverage, and a lesser percentage of uninsured individuals.
In 2008, 66.1 percent of Americans 64 and younger had private insurance, 17.4 percent had government-funded coverage, and 16.5 percent were uninsured. Last year, 62.2 percent of Americans 64 and younger had private health insurance, 20.9 percent had public coverage, and 16.9 percent were uninsured.
One key difference between Connecticut and the U.S. is the change in the uninsured population. In Connecticut, it increased slightly during the four-year period. Across the U.S., the rate of uninsured Americans 64 and younger increased between 2008 and 2010 and then fell between 2010 and 2012.
The decrease in uninsured Americans is due to aspects of the Affordable Care Act, which took effect after the sweeping federal reforms were passed by Congress in 2010.
In 2010, Connecticut had a 32 percent jump in Medicaid enrollment among low-income adults when it became the first state to expand medical coverage to that group as an early adopter of federal health care reform. Total Medicaid enrollment was 588,488 in June 2012, up 13,676 in a year, according to state data available last year.
Another provision of the Affordable Care Act was that young adults 18 to 25 years old could stay on their parents’ health insurance starting Sept. 23, 2010.
“Connecticut passed a version of this in 2009, then the federal government passed its version in 2010,” said Sharon Langer, a senior policy fellow at Connecticut Voices for Children, a policy think tank.
In addition to expanded Medicaid and new rules that allowed young adults to remain on their parents’ private, employer-sponsored health care, the first crop of Baby Boomers reached the Medicare eligibility age of 65.
As a result, enrollment in Medicare has increased. The number of Medicare recipients in Connecticut rose from 492,605 to 513,509 between 2011 and 2012, said Jennifer Millea, spokeswoman for AARP Connecticut.
On Tuesday, the Census Bureau released a different set of data. In that data, the number of Americans covered by Medicare increased from 46.9 million to 48.9 million between 2011 and 2012. The percentage of Americans covered by Medicare increased from 15.2 percent in 2011 to 15.7 percent last year, while the percentage of people covered by employer-based insurance or Medicaid was relatively flat, the new Census data show.
“It looks like the numbers sort of mesh with the national trend here in Connecticut,” Millea said.
AARP Connecticut has been an active advocate for Medicare beneficiaries, and 97 percent of people who are eligible for the program have it as their health coverage, Millea said.