Island County one of state’s ‘Most Insured Places’

If there’s a car accident, medical emergency or even a death, chances are Island County residents are covered. A recent analysis by the financial planning company SmartAsset ranked Island County ranked as one of the most insured places in Washington state.

The ranking — which includes auto, health and life insurance coverage — lists the county with the second highest coverage in the state. The SmartAsset report said over 83 percent of Island County residents have auto insurance and more than 22 percent have life insurance.

The percent of residents who have health insurance is 93.26 percent, which is the highest in Washington state. This high rate of health insurance coverage positively impacts WhidbeyHealth Medical Center, according to a spokesperson.

“Patients with insurance do have a beneficial effect to the financial well-being of the hospital as insured patients are more likely to seek treatment and services,” said WhidbeyHealth spokeswoman Patricia Duff in an email.

Because many of WhidbeyHealth’s patients are retirees, they are covered by Medicare. She said the hospital has also benefited from the implementation of the Affordable Care Act.

In 2017, WhidbeyHealth signed up more than 430 new patients through the ACA, she said.

As of March 31, 2018, 186 patients had signed up for insurance through the program. A report from the Washington State Office of Financial Management show that Island County’s uninsured rate dropped from 11.7 percent in 2013 to 4.5 in 2016. The report shows Island County was one of 24 counties in the state to have more than a 50 percent decline in uninsured rates.

Earlier this year, a U.S. News & World Report included Island County in its Healthiest Communities Honor Roll. The ranking assessed a number of factors, including rate of insurance coverage.

Island County Public Health Director Keith Higman said during a previous interview about he U.S. News ranking that insurance coverage doesn’t necessarily correlate with positive health outcomes.

“Just because you have health insurance, doesn’t mean you’re accessing a doctor,” he said.

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