Health Reform WK-EDGE Uninsured rate largely unchanged in 2017
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Thursday, September 20, 2018

Uninsured rate largely unchanged in 2017

By Matt Pavich, J.D.

The number of Americans without health insurance did not markedly change from 2016 to 2017. The uninsured rate in 2017 was 8.8 percent, with 28.5 million Americans lacking health insurance, a slight increase from 2016 (28.1 million), according to a report on health insurance coverage released by the U.S. Census. Similarly, the number of Americans with health insurance was statistically unchanged during that time period, with 91.2 percent of Americans having some form of health insurance (Current Population Reports: Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2017, September 12, 2018).

Background. The report focused on health insurance coverage in 2017, changes in health insurance coverage rates between 2016 and 2017, as well as changes in health insurance coverage rates between 2013 and 2017. The report relied upon information collected in two surveys conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau, the Current Population Survey Annual Social and Economic Supplement (CPS ASEC) and the American Community Survey (ACS.) It classified insurance coverage into overall coverage, private coverage, and government coverage.

Coverage findings. The report found that private health insurance—including coverage purchased through the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) exchanges— continued to dominate in 2017, with 67.2 percent of the population receiving private health insurance, as opposed to 37.7 percent that received government coverage. 56 percent of those who received private insurance did so through their employer, whereas 16 percent received direct-purchase coverage. Additionally, 19.3 percent of the population was on Medicaid and 17.2 percent received coverage through Medicare, a 0.6 percent increase. Another 4.8 percent of the population received coverage through the military, a 0.2 percent increase. Coverage rates for employment-based coverage, direct-purchase coverage, and Medicaid did not statistically change between 2016 and 2017.

Uninsured findings. The uninsured rate remained essentially unchanged between 2016 and 2017, at 8.8 percent, an increase of 0.2 percentage points from 8.6 percent in 2016.

The uninsured rates remained relatively stable between 2008 and 2013, but decreased sharply by 2.8 percent between 2013 and 2014. They decreased by 2.3 percent between 2014 and 2015 and 0.8 percent between 2015 and 2016. The percentage of uninsured children under the age of 19 (5.4 percent) was not statistically different between 2016 and 2017.

Demographics. Age was a predictor of whether an individual had health insurance in 2017. Adults aged 65 and over and children under 19 were more likely to have had health insurance coverage (98.7 percent and 94.6 percent) than adults aged 19 to 64 (87.8 percent.) Education also factored. People with higher levels of educational attainment were more likely to have coverage than people with lower levels of education. Race also played a role. In 2017, 93.7 percent of non-Hispanic Whites had coverage, a higher rate than for Blacks (89.4 percent), Asians (92.7 percent), and Hispanics (83.9 percent). Non-Hispanic Whites and Asians were more likely to have private health insurance in 2017, at 73.2 percent and 72.2 percent, respectively. Hispanics (53.5 percent) had the lowest rate of private coverage, and 56.5 percent of Blacks had private health insurance coverage.

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