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King County Executive
Dow Constantine

Census data confirms dramatic decrease in number of uninsured adults in King County


Thanks in part to the community partnership that King County created to help residents sign up for affordable insurance, the number of uninsured adults here dropped by 38 percent. That's 4 percent more than the rest of the state -- and more than in all but one of the other 49 states.


The number of uninsured adults in King County has dramatically declined since 2013 thanks in part to the county's outreach effort that helps residents sign up for affordable health insurance, according to a report by the U.S. Census Bureau

The 38-percent change is 4 percent more than in the rest of Washington state – and more than in all but one of the other 49 states.

“The network of community partners we created to connect King County residents with affordable healthcare continues to improve the health of our region," said Executive Dow Constantine. “It’s improved the quality of life for people and made our economy stronger by supporting a healthier, more productive workforce.”

An all-hands-on-deck approach 

To take advantage of the opportunity created by the Affordable Care Act, Executive Constantine created a coalition of community-based service providers, nonprofits, businesses and labor to help residents enroll. King County's all-hands-on-deck approach made in-person assisters available across King County, with a particular focus in communities that had the highest rate of uninsured residents.

The report from the Census Bureau shows 84,000 King County adults gained insurance thanks to the expansion of available coverage. Public Health is leading a targeted outreach effort to help the remaining 139,000 adults who do not have insurance.

The new data from the Census’ American Community Survey provides the most reliable and detailed information available about our local population. Until now, policymakers have relied on rough estimates for the number of uninsured. Among the findings:

  • In 2013 (before enrollment began): 223,000 uninsured adults under age 65 in King County – a rate of 16 percent uninsured.
  • In 2014: 139,000 uninsured adults under age 65 – a rate of 10-percent uninsured.

Groups that historically have had the highest rates of uninsured showed dramatic progress. Among African-Americans in King County, the number of uninsured adults dropped by 60 percent.

Early signs that overall health is improving

“When we reduce the number of people without insurance, we improve access to timely, preventive care.  We are seeing signs that fewer people are delaying important medical care due to the cost,” said Patty Hayes, Director of Public Health — Seattle & King County, who will discuss the new figures at a meeting of the King County Board of Health today.

Additional data shows more King County adults are getting routine medical checkups. People without access to preventive care and timely treatments often end up with poorly controlled chronic diseases, such as diabetes or heart disease, which leads to worse – and more expensive – complications. They also may go without crucial cancer screenings, early help for depression or for drug use problems, or vaccinations.

In preparation for the third year of open enrollment under the Affordable Care Act -- from Nov. 1, 2015 through Jan. 31, 2016 -- King County’s enrollment network will focus on reaching the remaining uninsured with a particular focus on those who may be eligible for partially subsidized Qualified Health Plans, workers whose jobs don’t provide health coverage or who are self-employed.

Public Health –Seattle & King County continues to track how well people are accessing care, and the quality of that care, to assure that the benefits of having insurance are translating into gains in health.

Washington is one of 31 states that expanded the Medicaid program, called Apple Health, to cover adults who were previously ineligible. Enrollment in Washington Apple Health, providing free insurance to those at the lowest range of the income spectrum, is open year-round.

Keith Seinfeld, Public Health – Seattle & King County, 206-263-8808

King County Executive
Dow Constantine
Dow constantine portrait

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