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Uninsured Rate in Northern Kentucky More than Doubles Since 2016

The percentage of Northern Kentucky adults ages 18-64 without health insurance more than doubled from 11 percent to 26 percent from 2016 to 2017, an increase of 236 percent, according to the latest Kentucky Health Issues Poll (KHIP) report.

The same report found that, while fewer adults in the region reported having family members or friends experiencing problems as a result of using heroin, since 2016, heroin and opioids remain a significant problem in the region.
 
KHIP, an annual opinion poll of Kentucky adults, is funded jointly by the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky and Cincinnati-based Interact for Health. This latest report highlights responses to a wide range of health questions from adults in an eight-county region including Boone, Campbell, Carroll, Gallatin, Grant, Kenton, Owen, and Pendleton Counties.
 
Some of the findings:
 
Health Insurance
 
  • The highest uninsured rate for adults ages 18-64 in Northern Kentucky since KHIP began in 2008 was 35 percent in 2012. The rate dropped to its lowest level of 11 percent in 2016, matching the statewide rate for that year. Statewide in 2017, 15 percent of adults 18-64 said they were uninsured.
  • A decreasing percentage of Northern Kentucky adults had unfavorable opinions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), down to 41 percent in 2017 compared to 51 percent in 2016. Statewide in 2017, the approval rate for the ACA was 44 percent and the disapproval rate was 33 percent.

Substance Use Issues

  • 23 percent of Northern Kentucky adults reported having family members or friends who experienced problems as a result of abusing prescription drugs in the latest poll, compared to 27 percent in 2016 and 30 percent in 2015.
  • Northern Kentucky adults also saw declining reports of friends or family using heroin, from 36 percent in 2016 to 29 percent in 2017. Still, these rates are higher than for Kentucky: 17 percent in 2016 and 16 percent in 2017.
  • A significant majority of adults in the region - 71 percent - believe that addiction is a disease, about the same as adults statewide.
  • Sixty-four percent of Northern Kentucky adults strongly favored court-mandated treatment for those with a first or second drug offense; 58 percent of adults statewide responded that they strongly favored this approach
  • KHIP also asked about pain medicine prescriptions; 38 percent of Northern Kentuckians said they had been prescribed such medications in the past five years, compared to 61 percent in 2011.
Tobacco Issues
 
  • Support for a statewide smoke-free law was about the same among Northern Kentucky adults in 2017 as in 2016, at 71 percent, as it was statewide. Kentucky does not have a statewide smoke-free law; according to the Kentucky Center for Smoke-Free Policy, local laws protect only 34.7 percent of the population from exposure to secondhand smoke in the workplace and other places frequented by the public.
  • Only half of Northern Kentucky adults were apt to support raising the minimum age from 18 to 21 to purchase tobacco products; 58 percent statewide favored such a change. Kentucky law prohibits local jurisdictions from raising the age to purchase tobacco products; only a statewide law could change the age restrictions currently in place. 
  • A vast majority in Northern Kentucky - 80 percent - strongly favored tobacco-free school campuses. Despite strong support statewide for this type of policy, just 41 percent of Kentucky's school districts have enacted tobacco-free policies, according to the Kentucky Tobacco Prevention and Cessation Program.

Other Health Questions

  • An overwhelming majority of adults - 92 percent - of adults in this region favored providing access to affordable, quality health care for all Americans.
  • Eighty-four percent of adults in the region favored schools taking a more active role in helping families get health care for their children, mirroring the statewide results. These numbers are up from 2009, the last time KHIP asked this question, when 75 percent of Kentucky adults favored more school involvement in child health. 
  • Nearly half of the adults in Northern Kentucky said they had excellent or very good health, about the same as the prior year and nine percentage points higher than the state as a whole.
 
A copy of the Northern Kentucky regional KHIP report is available here
 
-Staff report