Wyoming is neither the best nor the worst in many aspects of health care. One thing remains for sure though: it can help more of its citizens gain insurance if it improved upon its overall health performance.

For this year though, the reduction in the count of its residents without insurance and its slightly improved health ranking helped the state prevent a health insurance rate increase exceeding the national average.

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Health rankings: Where does WY stand?

WY also faces numerous challenges in its health system. It’s worthy to note though that in 2015, it went up a spot from its 2014 ranking in the Commonwealth Fund’s State Health System Performance.

In the 2015 Commonwealth Fund’s Scorecard on State Health System Performance, the state secured 28th place, after its above average performance in the indicators “Avoidable Hospital Use & Costs” and “Healthy Lives.” However, it only scored 3s for the remaining categories, including Access, Prevention & Treatment, and Equity.

Below are some of the contributing factors to the state’s Healthy Lives scorecard:

  • Mortality amenable to healthcare: 68 out of 100,000 people

  • Breast cancer fatalities: 20.5 out of 100,000 women

  • Colorectal cancer fatalities: 12.6 out of 100,000 people

  • Percentage of adult smokers: 19%

  • Adult obesity: 31%

  • Obesity in children aged 10-17: 27%

The study also had the following findings under the Access scorecard of the state:

  • 17% of adults (19 to 64 years old) don’t have insurance, compared with the national average of 15%

  • 7% of children (infants to 18 years old) are uninsured, as opposed to the countrywide average of 6%

  • 12% of the adult population chose not to obtain insurance due to the high costs associated with it

  • 18% of adults had expensive out-of-pocket medical bills

Slowly improving uninsured rating

Although slowly, the Equality State shows of an improving uninsured rating, as you can see in this U.S. Department of Health & Human Services study.

The assessment began in 2010, when only 85.1% of the population of the entire state had insurance. Within the course of five years though, this went up 3.4%. At the time the researchers concluded the study, the uninsured rating has gone down to 11.5%. This represented an increase of 20,000 insured people. For reference, it had an estimated population of 586,107 (2015, latest data1).

Approved rate increase and projected premiums this year

All over the country, health insurance rates went up, with the national average settling at 25%. In Wyoming, the rate increase for individual plans averages at just 7.4%. With many of the other states having seen double-digit hikes, this is considered one of the lowest in the in the nation.

Nonetheless, it pays to know more about the forecasted premiums this year. Here are some projections that the United States Department of Health & Human Services issued for the reference of WY consumers:

  • Average lowest-cost, monthly premium within metal level: $594

  • Average net premium for lowest cost plan within metal tier: $134

  • Second-lowest silver before advance premium tax credit (for a 27-year old with a $25,000 household income): $413

  • Second-lowest silver after advance premium tax credit (for a 27-year old with a $25,000 household income): $142

  • Second-lowest silver before advance premium tax credit (for a family of four with a $60,000 household income): $1,495

  • Second-lowest silver after advance premium tax credit (for a 27-year old with a $25,000 household income): $405

Bringing down uninsured rating even more

There are many good things that will follow an even bigger reduction in the state’s uninsured population. First and foremost is the significant improvement in the overall quality of life its citizens will lead. They will have better health, which will then lead to positive changes in health rankings. And as it moves up the ladder of these ratings, it will also open doors of opportunities for more affordable health insurance rates.

References:

https://www.healthinsurance.org/wyoming/

http://www.commonwealthfund.org/~/media/Files/2015%20State%20Scorecard/Best_State_profile_2015_Wyoming.pdf

http://datacenter.commonwealthfund.org/scorecard/state/52/wyoming/

https://aspe.hhs.gov/compilation-state-data-affordable-care-act

https://aspe.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/pdf/212721/2017MarketplaceLandscapeBrief.pdf

1Latest data: The U.S. census is conducted every 10 years as per requirement of the United States Constitution. The 23rd edition and the latest data is the 2010 United States Census. Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2010_United_States_Census
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