In the next twenty years, the number of Texans over the age of 65 is expected to double, and by 2040 the number is expected to triple. This is reflective of a nationally aging population, as baby boomers across the country reach retirement age and access increased medical services. In Texas, it is estimated that 80-85% of adults over the age of 65 are dependent on Medicaid and/or Medicare for the healthcare coverage. As the state with the third largest elderly population, Texas’ older adult population grew at a rate faster than the national average from 2000 to 2014, although historical rates have been comparable to the national average.
With an aging population come increased healthcare costs. Older adults experience higher rates of muscle and bone deterioration, sensory impairment, and other health issues as their bodies age, and a relatively minor health problem (for example, a fall or an infection) is far more likely to have serious medical consequences for an older adult. It is estimated that 55% of Texans in nursing homes have been diagnosed with some form of dementia.
The Rising Rates of Uninsured Texans
Texas is home to Houston and Dallas, which the US Census Bureau reports as the two cities with the highest rates of uninsured residents in the entire country, while San Antonio, another Texas city, comes in fourth on the list. It should come as little surprise that 4.3 million Texans are uninsured, which comes out to 16% of the state’s total population, a rate 1.75 times that of the national average.
Part of the problem is exploding premiums: premiums have risen 53% for families and 46% for individuals since 2003, with deductibles doubling during that same time period. With healthcare costs rising at a rate that is 2-3 times faster than inflation, and at a rate much higher than the national average, Texas residents are struggling to maintain their health insurance.
Medicaid Coverage for Children in Texas
Nationally, Medicaid provides health insurance for roughly 30 million children, and 2.6 million of those children live in Texas. In fact, children account for 70.5% of Texas’ Medicaid population, and 59% of inpatient days in Texas children’s hospitals are used by children on Medicaid. Despite the high levels of dependence on Medicaid, particularly by children, recent years have seen Texas cut funding to its Medicaid programs, and decline to expand its coverage under the Affordable Care Act.