Health care is an issue that’s at front of mind for many policymakers, businesses and families in Kentucky. As health policy decisions are debated, it is helpful to understand how residents of the Commonwealth pay for health care. Thus, the 2018 Kentucky Health Issues Poll (KHIP) asked Kentucky adults about their health insurance coverage.
KHIP, which is sponsored by Interact for Health and Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky, found that about 1 in 10 of Kentucky adults age 18 to 64 (11%) reported that they did not have health insurance at the time of the survey. This is similar to national results: according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 13% of all American adults in this age range lacked health insurance in the first half of 2018. Because nearly all adults age 65 and older have access, older adults were not included when analyzing responses to these questions.
“Health insurance coverage opens a door to the health care system,” said O’dell Moreno Owens, M.D., M.P.H., President and CEO of Interact for Health. “A lack of adequate insurance makes it difficult for people to get the health care they need and, when they do get care, burdens them with large medical bills. People with coverage are better equipped to promote and maintain health, prevent and manage disease, and reduce unnecessary disability and premature death.”
To further understand access to health care in the Commonwealth, KHIP asked respondents who were currently insured whether they had lacked coverage at any time in the preceding 12 months. The survey found that about 8% of Kentucky adults had a lapse in coverage within the past year, about the same as in 2017.
KHIP also looked at concerns about losing health coverage, asking respondents if they worried they might, in the next 12 months, have a gap in insurance. Such worries declined in 2018, with 16% of Kentucky adults reporting that they thought they would lose coverage, compared with 24% who expressed that concern in 2017.
“We know that certain populations, including racial and ethnic minorities and lower-income adults, are more likely to have lapses in their health care coverage,” said Owens. “Ensuring that all people have access to a stable source of health care is one tool to reduce health disparities in Kentucky.”
KHIP found that in 2018, more Kentucky adults reported that they received health insurance coverage through their own employer or their spouse’s employer (48%) than in 2017 (39%). An additional 3 in 10 (27%) of Kentucky adults said they were covered via public insurance, which includes Medicaid, Medicaid and veterans’ benefits; and about 1 in 10 indicated that they purchased their own plans, were covered by another source or a parents’ plan, or didn’t know the source of their coverage.
The 2018 Kentucky Health Issues Poll was funded by the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky and Interact for Health. It was conducted Aug. 26-Oct. 21, 2018, by the Institute for Policy Research at the University of Cincinnati. A random sample of 1,569 adults from throughout Kentucky was interviewed by telephone. This included 697 landline interviews and 872 interviews with cell phone users. In 95 of 100 cases, the statewide estimates will be accurate to ±2.5%. There are other sources of variation inherent in public opinion studies, such as nonresponse, question wording or context effects that can introduce error or bias. For more information about the Kentucky Health Issues Poll, please visit www.healthy-ky.org or www.interactforhealth.org/about-khip/.
Interact for Health is improving the health of all people in our region. We serve as a catalyst by promoting health equity through grants, education, research, policy and engagement. To amplify the impact of our work, Interact for Health focuses on three strategic priorities: reducing tobacco use, addressing the opioid epidemic and ensuring that children have access to health care through school-based health centers. We are an independent foundation that serves 20 counties in Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana.
Interact for Health regularly conducts research and collects data in order to monitor and evaluate our region’s health status and to measure public opinions about health policy.
Our Health in Action stories highlight the innovative work our grantees are doing to help reduce tobacco use, address the opioid epidemic and ensure that children can access health care through school-based health centers. We also interview people working on those issues at other organizations across the country to learn what works for them.
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