With signups under the Affordable Care and Patient Protection Act now less than a month away, recently released figures by the U.S. Census Bureau show that young adults in Floyd County will be the most affected by the new law.
The keystone of the health reform law popularly referred to as “Obamacare” is the individual mandate, which requires nearly everyone to acquire health insurance by Jan. 1. Beginning Oct. 1, residents of Kentucky without insurance will be able register for insurance online, through the state’s health benefits exchange at kynect.ky.gov.
In Floyd County, the new law means that nearly 6,000 people who currently do not have health insurance will have to obtain it, although most are expected to qualify for some level of assistance. Currently, 17.9 percent of Floyd Countians do not have health insurance, according to Census figures, which is just slightly worse than the 16.9 percent of Kentuckians without insurance.
Of those 6,000, the vast majority are adults. Currently, 94.3 percent of the county’s children are covered under some time of health plan, leaving a little over 500 uninsured.
Of the 5,500 remaining, well over half of the overall total — 3,200 — are young adults between the ages of 19 and 40. Some of those, however, will be allowed to remain on their parents’ policies, as the new law includes provisions allowing parents to keep their children on their health plans until they reach the age of 26.
While 22.2 percent of those from adulthood to retirement remain uninsured, that number is skewed heavily toward the younger end of the spectrum. Over 28 percent of Floyd Countians between the ages of 19 and 40 are uninsured, while roughly 17 percent of those between 40 and 64 lack health insurance.
In addition to the individual mandate, another key element of the new law is an expansion of Medicaid to those making 133 percent or less of the federal poverty level, as well as payment assistance through subsidies and tax credits to those making between 133 percent and 400 percent of the federal poverty level. That means an individual making less that $15,857 a year or a family of four making less than $32,500 would qualify for Medicaid, while an individual making less than $45,980 or a family of four making less than $94,200 would qualify for other assistance, based on a sliding scale.