New Census Data Shows California’s Continued Reduction in Uninsured Rate, Need to Protect Progress

New 2017 Census data released today has made it official that California has had the largest drop in the uninsured rate of all 50 states from 2013 to 2017, going from 6.5 million uninsured to 2.8 million, now down to 7.2%. The uninsured rate in both the United States and in California dropped dramatically with the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, and sets a platform for additional progress at the state level.

California has historically had one of the highest uninsurance rates in the nation–as high as seventh in the nation. The reduction of 10 percentage points is unprecedented. In other states, Nevada had the next biggest drop at 9.5 points, followed by New Mexico, Kentucky, and Louisiana. After the major reductions through 2016, California was one of three states, with Louisiana and New York, to see continued reductions in 2017.

California now has a below-average uninsured rate. To build on this progress, the #Care4AllCA campaign of over 50 organizations launched earlier this year is committed to ensuring that California has 100% health coverage, as well as improving quality, affordability, and equity in our health system. ​

This new data shows that because of California’s work to implement and improve on the Affordable Care Act our state went from having one of the highest uninsured rates to seeing the biggest drop in the number and percent of uninsured in the county.

But this progress is now at risk due to the continued efforts to sabotage our health care by the Trump Administration and Congress. Proposals to repeal the ACA and cut and cap Medicare and Medicaid, along with the Trump administrative actions to undermine our health system threaten to take us back to the bad old days of millions more uninsured and people denied coverage for pre-existing conditions.

This data shows that California is closer than ever to reaching our goal of universal coverage, but only if we are successful in keeping the framework and financing of the ACA intact. To protect this progress, we insist that Congressmembers immediately stop the attacks on our health care system and prevent any rollbacks or repeals. We can also take steps forward as a state with a number of bills now pending before Governor Jerry Brown. Consumer advocates urge Governor Brown to sign legislation that shields our state from further health care sabotage and take steps towards a more accessible, affordable, and stronger health care system for all Californians. These bills include:

  • SB 910 (Hernandez) which bans the sale of short-term “junk” health plans in California.
  • SB 1021 (Wiener) keeps prescription drugs affordable by maintaining a $250 co-pay cap so people who need costly medications are still able to afford them.
  • SB 1108 (Hernandez) institutes guidelines for Medicaid waivers to prevent eligibility restrictions like work requirements.
  • SB 1375 (Hernandez) regulates who can be sold association health plans (AHPs) and requires AHPs to comply with ACA consumer protections
  • AB 315 (Wood) requires Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBMs) to register with DMHC to help consumers & purchasers benefit from the savings PBMs negotiate.
  • AB 2472 (Wood) directs a new California Council on Health Care Delivery Systems to do a feasibility study of a public option in Covered California and the state health insurance market.
  • AB 2499 (Arambula) ensures health plans spend at least 80% of premium dollars on health care, limiting administrative costs and profits.

The Governor has already signed AB 595 (Wood) to provide more oversight to health plan mergers, ensuring they are in the public interest. He has unfortunately vetoed AB 2275 (Arambula) that would have ensured that Medi-Cal managed care plans are accountable for improving health care quality and reducing disparities

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