Isle health insurance could be nation’s model
A Census Bureau survey shows the percentage of Hawaii residents lacking health insurance has been declining.
AFTER more than two decades of rising numbers of residents lacking health insurance, the trend in Hawaii is improving
. Statistics released by the Census Bureau show the percentage of uninsured in Hawaii has dropped for the third consecutive year, and a new law ensuring coverage for all children in the state promises to lower the number even further. Hawaii might be a model for federal legislation.
Soon after enactment of the 1974 law requiring companies to provide health insurance to employees, only 2 percent of Hawaii residents were left uncovered. That rose to 4 percent in the 1980s and was estimated at 9.9 percent by the Census Bureau survey for 2002 to 2004, a three-year period recommended by the bureau for state comparisons.
Hawaii's uninsured rate for subsequent three-year periods dipped to 9.5 percent in 2006 and to 8.6 percent -- about 108,000 people -- for the past three years, taking into account revised data for 2004 and 2005, the bureau reported this week. That compares to nearly 16 percent nationally.
The statistics are even more encouraging in Hawaii for children. Expansion of the state child-care health insurance program reduced the percentage of uninsured children from 10 percent to 5 percent in the past five years. A three-year pilot program signed into law by Gov. Linda Lingle should ensure medical coverage for all children in the state.
Nationally, 11.7 percent of all children and 19.3 percent of children living in poverty are uninsured, according to the bureau's survey. The success of Hawaii's program should make it a model for other states and possibly at a federal level.
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