Across Southeastern Michigan all seven counties experienced an increase in the percentage of residents with health insurance between 2010 and 2015. In 2010 then President Barack Obama signed the Affordable Care Act into law; this is a piece of legislation that was crafted to increase access to and the quality of health insurance. Wayne County experienced the largest increase in overall health insurance coverage at 2.8 percent. In 2015, according the American Community Survey, 87.7 percent of the Wayne County population had health insurance. Wayne County also experienced the largest increase in private health insurance regionally at 17.5 percent. Of those with health insurance coverage in Wayne County in 2015, 83.2 percent had private health insurance coverage. For areas like Wayne County, where the percentage of those on private insurance plans has increased, it is likely due to the larger amount of private insurance options the Affordable Health Care Act offers.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, Livingston County experienced the smallest percentage increase in overall health insurance coverage between 2010 and 2015 at 1.4 percent; 93.3 percent of the residents there had coverage in 2015. While Livingston County also had the lowest increase in private health insurance coverage regionally in that time frame, it experienced the largest increase in public health insurance coverage at 28.2 percent. In 2015, 24.4 percent of those with health insurance coverage in Livingston County had public health insurance coverage; this translates to about 44,800 residents. Majority of those in Livingston County between the ages of 18 and 64 in 2015 with public coverage were not in the labor force (56%); 36 percent of that population was in the labor force and 8 percent was unemployed.
When examining the child population regionally, there was no increase in the percentage of children uninsured in Livingston County. Washtenaw County experienced the largest decrease at 30.6 percent. In 2015 2.5 percent of Washtenaw County’s child population was uninsured; this was equivalent to about 1,700 children. Wayne County, which hosts the city with the largest percentage of uninsured children regionally (Hamtramck) experienced about a 25 percent decrease in the percentage of uninsured children. In 2015 in Wayne County about 16,700 children, or 4 percent of the County’s child population, was without health insurance.
In examining this data we see that since the enactment of the Affordable Care Act thousands of residents throughout Southeastern Michigan have been granted more access to health care. According to a New York Times article, those who benefited the most from the Affordable Care Act were those between the ages of 18-34, those living in rural areas and those who are black and Hispanic. In Wayne County, which had the biggest overall percentage increase in insured residents about 25 percent of the population in 2015 was between the ages of 18-34 and about 40 percent of the population was black and about 6 percent of the population was Hispanic. It was also noted in the article that those with lower incomes tended to benefit more from the Affordable Care Act.