New Health Insurance Study Released as State Rolls Out Medicaid Expansion

Stephen Barnes

Stephen Barnes

August 30, 2016

BATON ROUGE – Louisiana is the only state in the Deep South that has approved Medicaid expansion. To help the state prepare for this, researchers from LSU conducted the most comprehensive assessment of the current health insurance status of the population. The 2015 Louisiana Health Insurance Survey, or LHIS, provides a snapshot of insurance coverage for adults who are eligible for Medicaid to assist in planning and to provide a benchmark for future comparisons tracking changes brought on by the policy.

On Jan. 12, Gov. John Bel Edwards signed an executive order to adopt the Medicaid expansion. Since June 1, adults up to 138 percent of the Federal Poverty Level, or FPL, can apply for Medicaid. Since July 1, additional qualified individuals have been able to receive Medicaid health coverage.

The LHIS has been conducted every two years since 2003.

“This most recent study is particularly important in light of the changes in Medicaid eligibility because it establishes a baseline snapshot of coverage and provides timely estimates for planning” said Stephen Barnes, director of the LSU Economics & Policy Research Group at the E. J. Ourso College of Business.

The study shows that in 2015, there were 327,700 uninsured adults under 138 percent FPL. In addition, about 180,500 adults in the under 138 percent FPL income group have employer coverage, and 62,000 have privately purchased coverage. While most uninsured individuals are expected to take up Medicaid coverage with the expansion, a portion of those with employer coverage and privately purchased insurance may also opt for the free expanded Medicaid program in order to reduce costs.

The 2015 LHIS was conducted by the LSU Economics & Policy Research Group at the E. J. Ourso College of Business and the Public Policy Research Lab at the Manship School of Mass Communication.

“This year’s study is also the first to assess the impact of the federal online Marketplace on access to insurance,” Barnes said.

The study shows that despite increased access and federal subsidies for privately purchased insurance through the online Marketplace, the percent of adults covered by privately purchased coverage dropped in 2015. In 2015, 6.5 percent of adults purchased insurance on their own or through the Marketplace, compared to 7.9 percent in 2013.

The 2015 LHIS includes responses from 8,644 households with more than 23,904 Louisiana residents representing every parish in the state. The large sample size makes it possible to create detailed estimates for each region within the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals and various subpopulations, such as people in different age groups and income levels.

Other key findings from the 2015 LHIS include:

- The uninsured rate among children dropped to 3.8 percent in 2015, down from 4.4 percent in 2013. This drop in the uninsured rate brought the number of uninsured children down to 45,000 and represented a decline of about 7,000 children from 2013 levels.

- The region with the lowest uninsured rate in 2015 is New Orleans, which saw the percent of children drop to 2.4 percent thanks in part to increased coverage through Medicaid and LaCHIP. The highest uninsured rate is in the Northeast region where 5.8 percent of children are uninsured.

- Statewide, Medicaid and LaCHIP enrollment has continued to grow for children balancing out decreases in employer coverage relative to 2013 and helping to maintain a low uninsured rate in Louisiana.

- The uninsured rate among adults raised slightly to 22.7 percent in 2015. In 2013 the uninsured rate for adults was 22 percent. This shift meant 644,217 were uninsured, which is approximately 22,000 more adults than in 2013.​

- Lowest uninsured rate is in Baton Rouge with 18.8 percent and the highest is in the Northeast region with 29.2 percent.

Additional Link:
2015 Louisiana Health Insurance Survey


Angela McBride
LSU E. J. Ourso College of Business