For Immediate Release: January 9, 2018
Vermont Department of Health
802-951-5153 / 802-863-7281
Vermont Household Health Insurance Survey Finds Fewer Vermonters are Uninsured
Fewer Vermonters encounter financial hardship, but out-of-pocket costs pose challenges
BURLINGTON – Vermont continues to have one of the lowest rates of uninsured residents in the country. According to the 2018 Vermont Household Health Insurance Survey published by the Vermont Department of Health, the statewide rate of uninsured Vermonters is 3 percent, less than half that from just a decade ago (8 percent). Nearly all counties in the state have rates of 4 percent or less, comparable to the best-performing states.
“Vermont has seen a sharp decline over the past several years in the number of people without insurance, a very positive and important trend,” said Health Commissioner Mark Levine, MD. Dr. Levine said the increasing number of Vermonters with health insurance appears to be related to Vermont being one of 37 states to expand access to Medicaid, and to its efforts in helping Vermonters enroll in health insurance plans. “We have a moral obligation to protect and promote the health of all Vermonters,” said Dr. Levine. “As a state, we can only achieve our public health goals if Vermonters are able to access the health services they need.”
The Vermont Household Health Insurance Survey is conducted every few years to gather data about health care, health insurance coverage, frequency of doctor visits and what influences decisions about whether or not to seek medical care. The survey was administered for the Health Department by Market Decisions, a Portland, Maine-based research company. Over 3,000 households were interviewed, representing more than 7,000 Vermonters. Respondents were randomly selected to participate in the survey, and all responses are strictly confidential.
Survey data gathered from Vermont households revealed some stand-out trends:
Having or lacking insurance varies by demographics and employer size.
Ten percent of people age 25 to 34 are uninsured, making them the most likely age group to be without insurance. Vermonters between ages 18 and 64 who work for larger businesses are more likely to have health insurance than those who work for small businesses of fewer than 25 employees (8 percent) or are self-employed (7 percent). Men are more likely than women to be without insurance.
Greater equity across income levels.
Survey data indicates that people with lower incomes are now as likely as those with high incomes to have health insurance. While Vermonters with moderately low incomes are more likely to be uninsured than other income groups, uninsured rates for all income groups are lower than 10 years ago, and are also lower than the national average.
Out-of-pocket costs are increasing.
More insured Vermonters face significant deductibles, out-of-pocket costs or other medical expenses. This rising cost-to-income disparity has led to an increasing number of Vermonters being considered as “underinsured.” Thirty-seven percent of insured Vermonters under age 65 are defined as being underinsured. Among Vermonters who have private insurance (not Medicare or Medicaid), the percentage of people who are underinsured increased from 27 percent in 2014 to 40 percent in 2018.
Vermonters face fewer financial challenges related to health care.
Fewer Vermonters reported problems with paying medical bills than in previous surveys. While more insured people received a medical bill of more than $500 in out-of-pocket costs, people reported fewer instances where they were called by a collection agency, had to use all or some of their savings to pay medical bills, incurred large credit card debt or debt against their home, or were unable to pay for basic necessities due to medical bills.
“The survey data shows a significant reduction in the number of uninsured Vermonters and a reassuring drop in the number of Vermonters facing debilitating health care bills,” said Dr. Levine. “Nonetheless, we must continue to work as a state to rein in health care costs. Affordability is essential to timely access, and access is essential to public health.”
Read the full Household Health Insurance Survey: healthvermont.gov/stats/surveys/household-health-insurance-survey.
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