From 2008 to 2015, the percentage of American Indian adults without health insurance increased significantly, according to a recent report by Georgetown University. During the same time, the number of American Indian children without health insurance declined. The report focused on states with American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) populations that comprised at least eight percent of the state’s total population.
The rate of uninsured American Indian children in South Dakota dropped from 28 percent to 16 percent from 2008 to 2015. However, during the same time period, the number of uninsured American Indian adults increased by 17 percent—from 40 percent in 2008, to 57 percent in 2015. This increase places the Rushmore State at odds with the national trend, which posted an 8.0 percent decline in the uninsured rate of AI/AN adults from 2008 to 2015.
Regionally, North Dakota and Montana also experienced declines in the rate of uninsured AI/AN children from 2008-2015. The rate of uninsured AI/AN children in both states declined by 12 percent—from 37 percent to 25 percent in North Dakota, and 36 percent to 24 percent in Montana. Of the states examined, New Mexico experienced the largest decline of uninsured AI/AN children—dropping from 38 percent in 2008 to just 11 percent in 2015. California—which already had a very low population of uninsured AI/AN children—dropped from 12 percent to 10 percent over the same time period.
Although American Indians and Alaska Natives have access to healthcare through the Indian Health Service (IHS), the U.S. Census Bureau considers those that have access to IHS, but not private health insurance coverage to be uninsured. IHS is not considered to be health insurance coverage because it is a health care delivery system operated by either the federal government or federally-recognized Indian Tribes.
Conversely, Medicaid is a jointly funded health insurance program operated in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. States and the federal government share the cost of health and long-term care services for children and families. Medicaid also covers services offered through IHS to eligible AI/AN beneficiaries.
For more information on health insurance coverage in South Dakota, visit the South Dakota Dashboard’s health insurance data hub.