Share of NH residents without health insurance drops below 10 percent

Census survey also shows more higher-income residents and more living in poverty

Compared to five years ago, a larger percentage of New Hampshire residents have health insurance, who heat their homes with wood and who rent rather than own their homes or apartments, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s annual American Community Survey estimates, released on Thursday.

The statistics show a larger chunk of residents with a higher income, yet there is also a greater percentage of those living in poverty, particularly if they have children. And there is a greater number of foreign-born New Hampshire residents, particularly from Asia.

The estimates are from 2010, at the heart of the recession, through 2014, and are based on a community survey not a complete count.

The differences are not huge, but they are large enough to be statistically significant, and for the most part reflect a trend, not a spike.

The percentage of those without health insurance, however, sharply dropped last year, to 9.2 percent from 10.7 percent, the first time the total has fallen under the 10 percent mark. It was at 11.1 percent in 2010.

While improvement in health care coverage was across the board, it was particularly significant for those without jobs, indicating the success of Obamacare and the expansion of Medicaid. The uninsured unemployed fell from 46 percent in 2010 to 33.5 percent over the five-year period. Those with public coverage nearly doubled from 10.9 percent to 19.3 percent.

A smaller percentage of people were heating with oil in 2014 than 2010 – 44.3 percent compared to 49.2 percent, but surprisingly that wasn’t because of increase in natural gas, which remained essentially flat at 19.4 percent. Propane ticked up a percent, but the biggest gain was in wood heat, growing from 7.8 to 9.5 percent, perhaps reflecting the success of the pellet furnace.

Income inequality

The housing crisis of the last recession also made more renters out of Granite Staters. Some 29.8 percent were renters in 2014, a percentage and a half more than five years earlier, while 70.2 percent own, a percentage and a half drop. The rental vacancy rate 5.2 percent, hardly budged.

Income inequality continues to grow in the state. While the median household income barely changed by 2014, at $66,532 – less than a $300 increase in five years – average household income went up nearly $3,000, to $86,622. That would indicate some skewing at the top and the bottom.

Indeed, some 13.5 percent of households were earning $150,000 annually, as opposed to 12.2 percent in 2010, and those earning $10,000 to $35,000 also increased, to 25.2 percent, compared to 20.4 percent. The percentage of those in the middle fell from 63.1 percent to 61.3 percent.

The poverty rate also increased, to 9.2 from 8.3 percent. The poverty rate for people with kids rose to 13 percent, up from 10 percent in 2010. But education level is rising too – 35 percent of the population had a bachelor’s degree or higher in 2014, compared to 32.8 percent five years earlier.

In addition, the number of foreign-born New Hampshire residents continues to grow. The count stood at 79,432 in 2014 – 6 percent of the state’s population, compared to 5.3 percent in 2010. Some 55 percent, a percent up from 2010, are U.S. citizens. The largest percentage of foreign born New Hampshirites came from Asia – 36.6 percent, up from 33 percent in 2010.

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