Before President Obama's Affordable Care Act was passed, Florida had one of the highest rates of people living without health insurance. Now, five years after the launch of Obamacare, Florida still ranks third in the nation for those uninsured. The good news, however, is that means there are fewer uninsured Floridians.
A new study from WalletHub shows that in 2014, 16.57 percent of Floridians were uninsured. For Florida, that translates to 695,899 individuals. Only Alaska and Texas had higher rates of uninsured residents, and only Texas and California have a higher total number of people uninsured (which makes sense because those are the only states with populations greater than Florida's). Compare that to the state with the most covered residents, Massachusetts, where only 3.28 percent of the population is uninsured.
The good news, however, is that the rate of uninsured is down 4.69 percent in Florida since 2010. That's the 11th biggest difference of any state in the nation.
The insurance coverage gap doesn't affect all populations equally, though.
The study shows that 9.34 percent of Florida's children are now uninsured, the fifth highest rate in the nation. The rate has dropped 3.36 percent, the eighth largest drop under Obamacare in the nation. Meanwhile, 18.45 percent of adults are left uncovered, but that too was down 5.16 percent since 2010, the 12th largest drop.
In Florida, whites also tend to be more likely to have health insurance than blacks and Hispanics. The uninsured rate for whites is 36.62 percent lower than that for blacks and 52.93 percent lower than that for Hispanics. Florida had the ninth biggest disparity between uninsured whites and uninsured blacks. Higher-income households are also 66.54 higher than low-income households.
So why is Florida still lagging behind so many other states in health insurance? Well, the study found a huge difference between the coverage rates in states that chose to expand Medicaid and those that didn't.
Gov. Rick Scott has steadfastly refused to expand Medicaid coverage in the state. A plan to expand coverage was backed by the Republican-controlled state senate in the past legislative session but was ultimately blocked by the house, whose members decided to simply end their session early rather than negotiate. A plan to expand Medicaid was also defeated in a special session called this past summer.
Keep Miami New Times Free... Since we started Miami New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Miami, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Miami with no paywalls.