Since Iowa expanded its Medicaid program in 2013, more low-income rural residents are covered by health insurance.
A new report from Georgetown University shows that coverage gaps in states where Medicaid was expanded are much smaller than in states that did not expand.
Anne Discher, executive director of the Child and Family Policy Center with the Iowa Department of Human Services, says only 15% of Iowa’s low-income rural residents were uninsured in 2016.
That’s compared with a nationwide high of 47% in neighboring South Dakota, which chose not to expand.
In 2016, Iowa moved its Medicaid program away from federal and state management and hired private companies to run Medicaid programs and administer benefits paid for by the state. Medicaid serves 685,000 low-income or disabled Iowans.
Study co-author Joan Alker, executive director of the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families, says the uninsured rate for low-income adults has dropped much faster in states that expanded Medicaid.
She notes that unlike some states where the gap between metro-area uninsured residents and rural residents is significant, Iowa is nearly equal.
Discher says Iowa is a healthier state because more residents have insurance.
Parents make up about half of rural low-income uninsured adults, many of whom are relied on by children as parents, child care providers, teachers or other caregivers.