The Obamacare miracle in eastern Kentucky

This week we mentioned the amazing new numbers from Kentucky’s Department of Medicaid Services on what the Affordable Care Act and the expansion of Medicaid has meant for the state. Perhaps the most notable piece of information is the county-by-county map of how the uninsured rate has plummeted, especially in eastern Kentucky. On the House floor on Wednesday, Congressman John Yarmuth made sure to show this map to all of his Republican colleagues who want to repeal the law and most of those Kentuckians’ coverage:

While it is true that these estimates in the map show that the uninsured rate has gone down in every Kentucky county, if you break down the numbers that the Beshear administration used, it becomes apparent that the entire Appalachian region of the state easily benefited from health care reform more than any other.

LEO constructed the map below by using the same figures that the Beshear administration used for their estimates, comparing insurance coverage in Kentucky from 2012 (from the U.S. Census’ Small Area Health Insurance Estimates) to the new figures estimated in 2014 (calculated using Kynect enrollment numbers from the April signup deadline, and estimating that 75 percent of those gaining coverage were previously uninsured, as they indicated when signing up) in order to find out how much the uninsured rate dropped in each county:

kynect percent change map 2

Right there in the heart of anti-Obama coal country, Kentucky saw it’s most dramatic double-digit drops in the percentage of uninsured citizens. There is no other region in Kentucky that benefited more from Obamacare, where you see counties going from 17 percent uninsured to less than 5 percent. This is also the region where President Obama’s approval rating is the likely the lowest, where the mythology of Obama’s “War on Coal” being their singular boogeyman remains virtually unchallenged.

Remember, these figures remain an estimate, as the 75 percent figure surely varies from county to county, along with demographic shifts over the last two years. Additionally, the number of people who actually lost their insurance — and did not just receive a scary letter from their insurance company in the mail — is likely small, but not totally insignificant. But for the most part, these numbers should be extremely close to the reality on the ground.

Now, if there was just a candidate in a very important and high profile race in Kentucky to rally voters around keeping this health care reform in place so that all of this progress doesn’t make a U-turn back to the old pre-ACA days…

If you hear of such a candidate making an effort to highlight this on the campaign trail, please let us know.

***** UPDATE *****

Just to illustrate how much Obamacare has helped anti-Obama voters, David Schankula at B&P points outs this helpful visual evidence:

kynect percent change map 2


  1. MJ
    Posted August 4, 2014 at 10:24 am | Permalink

    Most of those who gained coverage probably are counting on us to pay their premiums, which the Supreme Court ruled was unconstitutional. And they were probably already getting free health care from providers in their communities anyway, and will continue to do so.

  2. Chromex
    Posted August 5, 2014 at 6:42 am | Permalink

    1. Insurance is not care
    2. Medicaid expansion could have been done without the ACA and achieved pretty much the same result. Medicaid, as currently constructed resembles a gulag, at least in relation to waht genuine health care would entail.
    3. Some miracle.
    I do not support either party and am for single payer as no one can be expected to know when or if they will need medical care, how much it will cost and whether their entire savings will be wiped out. Looking at other countries shows that single payer is also less expensive than the current series of swindles known as coverage and care in the US.
    Medical care is not a commodity” amenable to “market-based” solutions. Moreover, single payer will liberate businesses large and small from the burden of providing health care for the employed. Decisions made in the employment context as to the expense of coverage often are not in the best interest of the insured party and the ACA does nothing to remedy this except in the case of the largest employers (assuming that the exemptions from providing standardized policies given to them by the Obama administration EVER expire).
    Some miracle

  3. nick
    Posted August 6, 2014 at 11:30 am | Permalink

    MJ, do some research, the Supreme Court has never said that the subsidies are unconstitutional. There were two competing opinions out of two separate Federal Courts of Appeals with one saying it was unconstitutional and another saying it was not. The Supreme Court has never ruled on it. What a stupid comment.

  4. Sorry
    Posted August 6, 2014 at 12:35 pm | Permalink

    Aaron Yarmuth is looking to keep the miracle going – by FIRING employees he denies them health care, and by hiring FREELANCERS, denies the people of Louisville a steady paycheck and any hope for benefits. Just keep ‘em all below the poverty level so they can apply for a handout for insurance, right sonny boy?

  5. Puhn Tang
    Posted August 7, 2014 at 1:21 pm | Permalink

    The son of Congressman Awesome must not be so awesome. Right, Joe? Fore!

  6. Jim Lakey
    Posted August 21, 2014 at 4:59 pm | Permalink

    “Just to illustrate how much Obamacare has helped anti-Obama voters…”

    That map is no indication that they’ll perceive the changes as “help”. The uninsured are forced under penalty of law to buy insurance. So, it should be no surprise that the uninsured rate went down. Whether or not these folks consider this change to be an aid or an imposition (or some combination of both) is an open question. The same people who you’d consider to have benefited the most from the law might because of it be even more motivated to defeat its political boosters (i.e. Democrats).

  7. jdfjljl;df
    Posted August 30, 2014 at 2:47 am | Permalink


6 Trackbacks

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