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July 2016

Episcopal Health Foundation (Houston, TX)

The percentage of Texans without health insurance has dropped by 30 percent since the Affordable Care Act (ACA) went into effect, cutting the state’s uninsured rate below 1999 levels. That’s one of the conclusions of a new report by the Episcopal Health Foundation and Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy. The report found the uninsured rate among Texas adults dropped from 26 percent in September 2013 to 18 percent in March 2016. Researchers also discovered a steady decline in the uninsured rate for every age, ethnic and income-level group across the state. The report found that Texans between the ages of 50 and 64 experienced the largest decrease in their percentage of uninsured—plummeting from 21 percent to 10 percent since the ACA went into effect. The percentage of uninsured Texans with annual incomes between $16,000 and $47,000 dropped by more than 42 percent. Researchers said that while it’s evident the ACA has helped drop the uninsured rate in Texas, it’s also clear that a significant number of Texans with the lowest incomes remain uninsured. The report found that 46 percent of Texans earning less than $16,000 a year don’t have health insurance. According to the report, the “coverage gap” affects mostly people of color in working families and was recently estimated by the Kaiser Family Foundation to include 766,000 Texans. The Health Reform Monitoring Survey (HRMS) is a quarterly survey of adults ages 18-64 that began in 2013.

Contact: Brian Sasser
Phone: 832.795.9404

Northern Virginia Health Foundation (Alexandria)

A report from the Northern Virginia Health Foundation (NVHF) and Virginia Commonwealth University’s (VCU) Center on Society and Health is the first to examine differences in life expectancy, income, race, and education in Northern Virginia neighborhoods. It found that life expectancy varies by as much as 13 years in the region. For example, a baby born in one part of Fairfax County is expected to live to age 89, while a baby born a short distance away in another part of that county has a life expectancy of only 76 years. VCU researchers say that these differences in health are the result of a mix of factors. Access to health care and individual health behaviors play a role, but social and economic factors have a greater influence on health and life expectancy. In addition to the report, NVHF and VCU released an interactive mapping tool that allows users to compare neighborhoods by “zooming in” on census tracts and examining their life expectancy, education, income levels, and racial-ethnic composition.  The tool and full report can be found at the link below.

United Hospital Fund (New York, NY)

A new report provides an analysis of enrollment and financial data on New York’s individual health insurance market—before and after the rollout of the Affordable Care Act—showing how New York’s implementation breathed new life into the individual market. It also highlights some key steps necessary to sustain that improvement and factors that could undercut these gains. In 2014, new enrollment, participation in health plans that primarily offer coverage through public insurance programs, more competitive pricing, a better risk pool, and a federal reinsurance program resulted in an average individual New York premium of $430.97.

In addition, health plans reported big drops in expenses per member for hospital/medical care and drugs. Yet larger enrollment (from 136,000 in 2013 to 441,000 in 2014) and an apparently healthier risk pool did not translate to positive net income for most health plans in 2014, according to the report. Eight licensees reported underwriting gains for individual coverage (totaling $70 million), while 18 licensees posted losses totaling $169 million.

Affordable Care Act Brings New Life—and Covered Lives—to New York’s Individual Market also examines the steps necessary to sustain New York’s improvements in the individual insurance market, focusing on three areas: the stability of the risk pool, expanding coverage to the remaining eligible but uninsured, and continued premium affordability. The report concludes that the affordability of coverage is the single biggest challenge facing the market, and it is inextricably linked to maintaining a healthier risk pool. The report is available at the link below. This work was supported by The New York Community Trust (New York, NY).