Study highlights Washington, D.C., as leader in health coverage

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A new study exploring health insurance in Washington, D.C., places the District second in the country for providing coverage to its residents, eclipsed only by Massachusetts, which mandates coverage to its residents.

The study, conducted by The Urban Institute for the District of Columbia Department of Health Care Finance (DHCF), found that only 6.2% of D.C. residents are uninsured, with 3.2% of that number representing children.

The majority of District residents (55%) have health insurance through their employers and nearly one-third are covered by public programs including Medicaid and Medicare, according to the research. Only 10% of children with public coverage have the option of employer-sponsored insurance and in families with an offer of dependent coverage, higher income is associated with a greater likelihood of children having employer-sponsored coverage, according to the study.

The study also indicated that 10.6%, or 63,000 people, of District residents reported being uninsured at some time in the last year, rates that compare favorably with the national rates of 15.4% currently uninsured, according to the Urban Institute.

Data on the District’s uninsured residents suggests these individuals were more likely to be male (67%), black (58%) and a high school graduate (45%) or college graduate (43%). Furthermore, most (56%) earn below 200% of the federal poverty level, meaning either less than $21,000 for an individual or up to $36,000 for a family of three. However, the report showed that almost one-fifth of the uninsured are four times the poverty level.

Coverage numbers ‘excellent news’

Adrian Fenty

In a statement on the report, D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty called the results “excellent news” for the District.

“Health care has always been a priority, and our efforts have placed us as a national leader in providing coverage to residents,” Fenty said. “In addition, we now have accurate data that can be used to formulate expansion of health insurance options and shape our approach to healthcare reform.”

Fenty said the data will help the District draw down the federal funds for coverage of adults under 133% of the federal poverty level, an option featured in the recently signed Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

DHCF Director Dr. Julie Hudman said the District is “only behind Massachusetts in leading the nation in covering our residents.

“We will continue with our commitment to provide residents of the District with access to care through programs such as Healthy DC,” she said.

The 2009 District of Columbia Health Insurance Survey was conducted between August and November 2009 via telephone, web and mail by Social Science Research Solutions, according to the DHCF.

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