Number of uninsured in Los Angeles could drop 57% by 2016, study finds

A new report predicts a sharp drop in uninsured residents in Los Angeles by 2016. Above, people sign up under the health law in April in Southeast L.A.
(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)

The number of uninsured residents in Los Angeles could drop 57% by 2016 as a result of the federal health law’s expansion of coverage, according to a new report.

The study released Thursday by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation predicts that the number of city residents without health coverage could decline from 1.2 million people to 524,000 in 2016.

Researchers examined changes in health insurance in 14 big cities, half of which are in states that didn’t expand Medicaid as part of the Affordable Care Act.


California did accept federal money to broaden eligibility for Medi-Cal, the state’s program for lower-income people. The projection of a 57% decrease among the uninsured in Los Angeles compared with reductions of 49% in Denver and 66% in Detroit.

“Health reform will be the driving force behind a large drop in the number of uninsured people living in major cities,” said Dr. John Lumpkin, senior vice president at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. “The biggest decline is happening in places like Los Angeles because California lawmakers chose to expand the Medicaid program throughout the state.”

Researchers also looked at the economic effect on cities from the health law. Los Angeles will see an estimated increase of $27 billion in new federal spending on healthcare over the next decade, according to the report.

The study noted that nearly half of the Los Angeles residents who are expected to remain uninsured are undocumented immigrants, who aren’t covered by the health law expansion. That percentage was higher than many cities but similar to the rate in Phoenix and Denver.

The state’s health insurance exchange, Covered California, signed up 1.4 million people statewide during the first open enrollment period for private insurance. Another 1.9 million people have been deemed eligible for Medi-Cal statewide.