Census: Number of uninsured has increased in Kansas and Douglas County

Dr. Karen Evans, of Mt. Oread Family Practice, examines Lawrence resident Kelly Pohlman, 21, during an appointment Friday, Aug. 12, 2011, at Health Care Access, 330 Maine. Evans volunteers at the clinic, which serves low-income, uninsured Douglas County residents.

Dr. Karen Evans, of Mt. Oread Family Practice, examines Lawrence resident Kelly Pohlman, 21, during an appointment Friday, Aug. 12, 2011, at Health Care Access, 330 Maine. Evans volunteers at the clinic, which serves low-income, uninsured Douglas County residents. by Nick Krug

The percentage of Kansans under the age of 65 who are living without health insurance increased in 2010 and some health care providers expect that percentage to rise yet more unless the economy improves.

The U.S. Census Bureau reported Wednesday that 15.8 percent of Kansas residents under age 65 — 380,000 people — did not have health insurance in 2010, compared with 14.6 percent in 2009.

In Douglas County, 17.7 percent — or 16,404 residents — did not have health insurance in 2010, compared to 14.3 percent or 14,668 residents in 2009.

The census also reported for the first time on health insurance coverage for those between 50 and 64, a group more likely to use health insurance than younger age groups. In 2010, about 60,800 people ages 50 to 64, or 11.4 percent of that group, did not have health insurance. In Douglas County there were 1,888 people, or 11.2 percent, who fell into that age category.

Health Care Access, a Lawrence clinic that serves low-income, uninsured Douglas County residents, has seen its number of patient visits grow from 3,213 in 2010 to 6,937 in 2011. This year, it's on pace to provide 10,795 visits. The clinic has been able to see more patients because it has moved to a larger building and expanded services.

The clinic also offers walk-in appointments and it's projected to provide 1,000 this year. Nikki White, executive director, said one person had to wait three hours recently.

"He waited because he knew he needed help," she said.

White expects the clinic will see about 3,200 individuals this year, just 19 percent of the uninsured population.

— The Associated Press contributed information to this story.

Tagged: uninsured

Comments

Erika Dvorske 1 year, 7 months ago

This past week, United Way volunteers met with some of our community partners. One of the points that was clearly made was that the concerns and issues of people in our community are complex. I asked our health partners what percentage of the people that they serve have more than one personal or health issue and the answer was 98-99%.

As we work to increase access to care, and we applaud all of the efforts by Health Care Access to expand and provide more services, there are not easy solutions to these health challenges. For us to address this problem and ensure people can get the care they need, we will need to consider issues of education, poverty, and attitudes of overall wellness.

What role can individuals and organizations play in addressing the barriers that keep peope from being healthy?

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