First Time Ever, America’s Uninsured Rate Has Fallen Below 9 Percent
Fewer Americans are uninsured than ever before, new federal data shows.
Quarterly numbers from the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) show that the uninsured rate fell to 8.6 percent during the first three months of 2016. That’s the lowest rate the government has on record.
The NCHS data shows states that chose to expand Medicaid programs have cut their uninsured rate in half, while states that opted out of Medicaid expansion programs have not seen as dramatic of a decline.
It also finds that more and more Americans are enrolled in high-deductible insurance plans — and those with the highest uninsured rates are young adults between the ages of 25 and 34.
States that expanded Medicaid coverage cut their uninsured rate in half
States that opted to expand Medicaid coverage to include lower-income individuals have managed to cut their uninsured rate from 18.4 percent in 2013 to 9.2 percent in the first three months of 2016.
But for the 19 states that have opted not to expand Medicaid, the decrease in the uninsured rate has not been as substantial, falling from 22.7 percent in 2013 to 16.7 percent in 2016.
Adults in states with an insurance marketplace managed by the federal government were also more likely to be uninsured than those individuals living in states with a state-based marketplace.
The number of Americans seeking private health coverage is increasing, but not in the marketplace
Of the 178.5 million Americans covered by private health insurance, 10.8 million, or 4 percent, are currently covered by private plans obtained through the Obamacare marketplaces. This marks a 0.4 percentage point increase from 2015 enrollment totals, which the NCHS says is not statistically significant.
More people who purchase private health insurance are enrolling in a high-deductible health plan (HDHP). Forty percent of people under the age of 45 with private health insurance were enrolled in an HDHP, compared with 36.7 percent in 2015. That’s also a nearly 15 percentage point increase from 2010, when only 25.3 percent of individuals were enrolled in an HDHP.
But younger people are still the least likely to be insured
Adults ages 25 to 34 are almost twice as likely to lack health insurance than older adults ages 45 to 64.
As of 2016, 15.9 percent of adults ages 25 to 34 lack health insurance, compared with 8.1 percent of adults ages 45 to 64. Similarly, adults ages 18 to 24 and 35 to 44 also report high rates of uninsurance — 13.7 percent and 14.3 percent, respectively.
While other demographic groups have experienced steep declines in the uninsured rate, most age groups have only experienced modest changes since 2010. The 18-to-24 age group has experienced the most dramatic decline but still reports a high percentage (14.3 percent) of uninsured individuals.
The uninsured rate did not fall dramatically for poorer Americans
Since 2013, America’s poorest adults have experienced some of the greatest declines in the uninsured rate, but as of the first three months of 2016, those steady declines might be tapering off.
No significant change was reported in the percentage of poor uninsured adults from 2015 to 2016. The uninsured rate did drop for wealthier adults, however, falling from 7.6 percent in 2015 to 6.5 percent in the early months of 2016.
But the uninsured rate continued to fall for all races and ethnicities, and especially for Hispanics
The uninsured rate has fallen most dramatically for nonwhite adults since 2013. For Hispanic adults, the uninsured rate has been cut nearly in half, dropping from 40.6 percent in 2013 to 24.5 percent in 2016.
African Americans and Asian Americans have also experienced steep declines in uninsured rates, as have white Americans, though not nearly as dramatically as their Hispanic peers.