Health >> Health Insurance

Health Insurance: Summary & Data Highlights

From 2010 to 2012, the rate of "un-insurance" for health care decreased among King County's youngest adults (ages 18-24), possibly because they can now be covered under their parents' health plans.

Without health insurance, most Americans could not afford adequate health care – including life- and cost-saving preventive care. Those lacking coverage often forego necessary care until a medical crisis forces them to seek expensive and potentially risky emergency treatment. 

As part of a survey conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau, King County adults were asked about their health insurance coverage. In 2012, 16.4% of adults age 18-64 had no health insurance coverage.

In 2012, 1 in 4 adults in the prime ages for parenthood had no health insurance (61% of 2012 King County births were to women age 25-34).

  • At 23.0% uninsured, adults age 25-34 were twice as likely as adults ages 55-64 (10.9%) to lack health insurance.
  • However, since implementation of the Affordable Act's provision allowing parents to include children up to age 26 on their family's health plan, the rate of uninsured 18-to-24-year-old adults decreased from a peak of 26.9% in 2010 to 19.8% in 2012. Rates of health coverage did not increase for any other age group of adults.
In 2012, 1 in 6 King County non-elderly adults did not have health insurance.
  • This represents about 220,500 King County adults between the ages of 18 and 64.
  • The percent of King County adults without health insurance was higher in 2012 than in 2008, the first year this survey collected health insurance information.

Lack of health insurance was related to household poverty, education, race/ethnicity, and gender.

  • More than 1/3 of adults living below 200% of the federal poverty threshold did not have health insurance.
  • Of adults who had not graduated from high school, 45.9% had no health insurance, compared to 6.6% of college graduates.
  • More than 2 in 5 Hispanic non-elderly adults had no health insurance.
  • About 1 in 4 Black, American Indian/Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander adults had no coverage.
  • Males were more likely than females to lack health insurance.

Employment was strongly tied to health insurance coverage. 

  • Unemployed adults were 3.4 times more likely to be uninsured than employed adults.
  • Adults not in the workforce (primarily homemakers, students, seasonal workers interviewed in the off season, and retired adults younger than 65) were more likely to be uninsured than those who were employed.

Lack of health insurance was concentrated in South Region

  • Lack of coverage rates varied widely across the county, from a low of 3.3% in Sammamish to a high of 30.4% in SeaTac.
  • More than 1 in 5 adults in SeaTac, Federal Way, Kent, Des Moines, Burien, Auburn, and Renton did not have coverage.

Combining data from 2010-2012, 5.1% of King County children younger than 18 (about 21,000 children) did not have health insurance.

  • HispanicAsian, American Indian/Alaska Native, and Black children were more likely to be uninsured than White non-Hispanic children.  About 1 of every 10 American Indian/Alaska Native children was uninsured.
  • Children in households with incomes below 200% of federal poverty guidelines currently qualify for free coverage in Washington. However, almost 1 in 10 children in this income bracket was uninsured.
  • Although the percentage of uninsured children in King County did not change significantly from 2008 to 2012, the type of plan through which children accessed care shifted during this time. 
    • 68.7% of children were covered by private health insurance in 2012, significantly fewer than in 2008 (75.0%).
    • 29.4% of children were covered by public health insurance in 2012, significantly more than in 2008 (20.4%).

As of January 2014, eligibility for Medicaid and subsidized health insurance expanded for Washington adults age 19 to 64.

  • Medicaid eligibility for adults expanded to include those with household incomes at or below 138% of the federal poverty guidelines (using the 2013 poverty guidelines for 2014 eligibility, a family of 4 earning $32,499 or less per year would qualify for Medicaid). 
  • Subsidized health insurance:  Adults with household incomes between 139% and 400% of the federal poverty guidelines (again, using 2013 criteria for 2014 eligibility, this would include a family of 4 earning up to $94,200 per year) are eligible for subsidized health insurance through Washington Healthplanfinder.
  • Of adults with no health insurance
    • … about 4 in 10 may qualify for expanded Medicaid coverage in Auburn, Bothell, Burien, Federal Way, Kent, SeaTac, and Seattle.
    • … at least half may qualify for subsidized coverage in Renton, Maple Valley, Kenmore, Kirkland, Shoreline, and Inglewood-Finn Hill.
  • Undocumented immigrants will not qualify for Medicaid expansion or subsidized coverage. 
  • Legal immigrants who have been in the United States for less than 5 years will also not qualify for Medicaid expansion, although they may be eligible for subsidized coverage.

In January of 2014, eligibility for subsidized health insurance for Washington children expanded to cover children in households with income between 300% and 400% of federal poverty guidelines.

  • Medicaid eligibility for children through age 18 continues at no cost to those in households with income up to 200% of the 2013 federal poverty guidelines ($47,100 for a family of 4 in 2014).
  • Children in households with incomes between 200% and 300% of the federal poverty guidelines remain eligible for low-cost health insurance through the Apple Health for Kids Program in Washington State.
  • With their families, children in households with income between 300% and 400% of the federal poverty guidelines are now eligible for income-based subsidies in the health insurance marketplace.

"If I’m sick, I just better get better. Because…. nobody will cover me.  They cover my kids …, but not for me. And I think that’s, I don’t know, I kind of think that’s not right, because I am doing [what I’m] supposed to be doing as a mom. You know, I’m working, going to school. It’s not like I’m sitting at home trying to collect TANF or anything, and I still l can’t get the health [insurance]  … unless I’m pregnant."
Single mother of 2 interviewed in Seattle before implementation of the Affordable Care Act