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Report: new federal health care law could cover two thirds of Mo. uninsured

(Courtesy Missouri Foundation for Health)
A map detailing a county-level look at the percentage of Missourians who were uninsured and under age 65 in 2009. Click on the map to expand and learn more.

A new report by the Missouri Foundation for Health estimates that about two-thirds of Missouri's more than 800,000 uninsured could get health insurance under the federal health care law  - and the county-level data suggest that rural counties will benefit the most.

The analysis uses census data to project how the number of uninsured could change in every county in Missouri under the Affordable Care Act.

The Missouri Foundation for Health's Ryan Barker says most of Missouri's newly-insured will be from urban counties.

"For example in Jackson County, which is the Kansas City area, 70,000 people will gain coverage," Barker said. " [In] St. Louis County, about 60,000. [In] St. Louis City about 40,000."

Barker says in rural areas, which are less densely populated, the numbers will be much lower.

But he says percentage-wise, rural counties stand to benefit the most from the health care law: Knox, Hickory, and Ozark counties, for example, could see close to 15 percent of their residents gain coverage.

Barker also says that even with the increased access to health insurance afforded by the law's health insurance exchanges and Medicaid expansion, about 255,000 Missourians will remain uninsured, including those who choose to pay a penalty rather than buy insurance.

"Some of those uninsured will be legal immigrants who are not eligible for Medicaid for five years and are not eligible for subsidies in the exchange, and some of those remaining uninsured will be undocumented workers that live in Missouri," Barker said.

Barker says how many people actually are left without insurance will depend in part on whether or not Missouri goes forward with Medicaid expansion.

Follow Véronique LaCapra on Twitter: @KWMUScience


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