Kentucky Oral Health Coalition Statement on New Health Coverage Data from the U.S. Census Bureau

Louisville, KY – New health insurance data released yesterday by the U.S. Census Bureau revealed that the percent of people with health insurance (of all ages) in Kentucky increased from 85.7 percent in 2013 to 94.6 percent in 2017. Kentucky continues to have the 8th highest rate among states of people with health insurance. The one-year estimates from the American Community Survey also revealed that 96.2 percent of Kentucky children under 19 had health insurance in 2017, compared with 93.6 percent in 2013.

“As oral health advocates, we are glad to see continued gains in health coverage for all Kentuckians. When children and families have health coverage they are able to go to the doctor and dentist offices to get the care they need to stay healthy,” said Dr. Laura Hancock Jones, chair of the Kentucky Oral Health Coalition.

The new data also shows that health insurance coverage for those under age 65, which includes both children and adults, increased from 83.4 percent in 2013 to 93.7 percent in 2017. Kentucky’s 2017 estimate for health insurance coverage of people under age 65 is also better than the national estimate of 89.8 percent.

In Kentucky, the Bevin Administration continues to seek approval of its 1115 Medicaid Waiver to make changes to Kentucky’s Medicaid program after the federal court ruling to halt implementation on July 1, 2018. The proposal, known as Kentucky HEALTH, protects children, pregnant women, former foster youth up to age 26, and adults covered through SSA 1931 from the potential negative impacts of premiums, reduced benefit packages, and lockout periods. Re-approval of Kentucky HEALTH will eliminate dental coverage from the standards benefits package for many Kentucky adults’ Medicaid.

Given our historic issues with poor oral health in Kentucky, we have made strides toward improvement in oral health by increasing access and preventive services. We as a Commonwealth cannot afford to move backward to maintain these gains in health coverage and must ensure individuals can improve health outcomes for themselves and their family members.

“Research shows that when children have healthy and pain-free mouths they are better prepared to learn, concentrate, and participate in the classroom. And, when adults are free from dental pain, they are able to enhance the workforce as a healthy provider for their family. Access to health coverage is vital to families’ access to care and we must continue progress to ensure a healthier Kentucky,” said Dr. Hancock Jones.