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Private health plan use plummets in Texas region

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Low oil prices slammed providers of commercial health coverage in Texas and three neighboring states in the first half of the year.

Texas is in federal government survey teams’ West South Central region, which also includes Arkansas, Louisiana and Oklahoma.

The percentage of people under 65 in the West Central Region who had some kind of private health coverage sank to 57 percent in the first half of 2016 from 63.5 percent in the first half of 2015, according to new data from the National Health Interview Survey, a survey program managed by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Related: CDC finds more health insurance, and more asthma attacks

The 6.5-percentage-point drop means the number of adults under 65 who had health coverage from an employer, an individual health policy purchased through the Affordable Care Act public exchange system, or an individual health policy purchased through the off-exchange market fell about 10 percent.

The percentage of West South Central residents under 65 with public health coverage increased to 25 percent from 20.7 percent, but the decline in use of private coverage increased the uninsured rate in the region to 19.2 percent from 16.9 percent

In the United States as a whole, the percentage of people under 65 with some kind of private health coverage fell to 65 percent, from 66.6 percent, but the percentage with Medicaid or other government health program coverage rose to 26.2 percent from 24.4 percent. That held the overall national uninsured rate to 10.4 percent, which was about the same as the uninsured rate recorded a year earlier.

The total percentage of U.S. residents under 65 with some kind of private health coverage was still higher in the first half of this year than it was in the first half of 2013, before the ACA public exchange system and Medicaid expansion program came to life.

In the first half of 2013, 61.2 percent of people under 65 had private health coverage, 23.4 percent had government plan coverage and 16.8 percent had no coverage.

The federal Bureau of Labor Statistics reported in a separate employment cost update that employment costs in the West South Central region increased 0.2 percent during the 12-month period that ended in June. Compensation in every other region grew at least 1.6 percent.


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