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Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Census: Fewer in Michigan without health insurance in 2013



By JERRY WOLFFE

The number of people with health care coverage in Michigan increased in 2013, according to Census Bureau data released Tuesday, and is expected to increase even further this year thanks in part to the state’s decision to extend affordable health insurance to those in Michigan with low incomes.

There were 1,072,000 Michiganians, or 11 percent, who still didn’t have health insurance last year, though there was some progress between 2012 and 2013.

Dramatic gains are expected in 2014. In just six months this year, 386,000 adults in Michigan signed up for the Healthy Michigan Plan, Michigan’s version of Medicaid expansion. In 2013, Michigan lawmakers and Gov. Snyder adopted the Healthy Michigan Plan, making Michigan one of 27 states to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. The plan took effect April 1.

Strengthening Medicaid so it provides coverage to more low-income people is a key component of the Affordable Care Act. The federal government agreed to pay the costs of expanding Medicaid to people making up to 138 percent of the poverty rate – just $32,600 per year for a family of four – for the first three years. But the U.S. Supreme Court left it up to the states to decide whether to implement the expansion. 

Jerry Wolffe is the writer-in-residence and advocate-at-large at the Macomb-Oakland Regional Center. He can be reached at 586-263-8950.