Health Reform WK-EDGE Uninsured rates dipped to historic lows in 2015
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Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Uninsured rates dipped to historic lows in 2015

Uninsured rates dipped to historic lows in 2015

By Anthony H. Nguyen, J.D.

Over 7.4 million fewer persons were uninsured in 2015 compared to 2014, dropping the overall share of uninsuredpersons in the U.S. to under 10 percent for the first time, according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) National Health Interview Survey Early Release Program (Survey) based on data estimates for all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The Survey found that the total number of uninsured persons dropped to 28.6 million, or 9.1 percent of the U.S. population. In addition, among adults aged 18 to 64, the percentage who were uninsured decreased from 16.3 percent in2014 to 12.8 percent in 2015, and for children aged 0 to17 years, the percentage that were uninsured decreased from 5.5 percent to 4.5 percent in the same timeframe (National Health Interview Survey, May 2016).

Historic lows. For the first time ever in the nation's history the uninsured rate has fallen into single digits; a 2.4 percentage point drop from 2014. Provisions within the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) (P.L. 111-148), such as the individual mandate and Medicaid expansion have contributed to the historic lows.

In addition the record low number of uninsured, a corresponding increase was seen in the percentage of adults aged 18 to 64 having private coverage, from 67.3 percent in 2014 to 69.7 percent in 2015. Among those under age 65, the percentage with private coverage through the health insurance marketplace or state-based exchanges increased from 2.5 percent (6.7 million) in the fourth quarter of 2014 to 3.4 percent (9.1 million) in the fourth quarter of 2015.

Medicaid expansion and exchanges. Under ACA provisions, states have the option to expand Medicaid coverage to those with low income. In 2015, adults aged 18 to 64 residing in Medicaid expansion states (9.8 percent) were less likely to beuninsured than those residing in nonexpansion states (17.5 percent). In Medicaid expansion states, the percentage of thoseuninsured decreased from 18.4 percent in 2013 to 9.8 percent in 2015. Decreases were also observed in the uninsuredrates between 2013 and 2015 in states with a state-based marketplace, a partnership marketplace, or a federally facilitated marketplace.

Socioeconomic status and race. In 2015 among adults aged 18 to 64, 25.2 percent of those who were poor, 24.1 percent of near poor, and 7.6 percent of not poor lacked health insurance coverage at the time of interview. A decrease was noted inthe percentage of uninsured adults from 2010 through 2015 among all three poverty groups; however, the greatest decreases in the uninsured rate since 2013 were among adults who were poor or near poor.

Minorities also had marked improvement in the uninsured rates since ACA provisions went into full effect in 2014. Significant decreases in the percentage of uninsured adults were observed between 2013 and 2015 for Hispanic, non-Hispanic black, non-Hispanic white, and non-Hispanic Asian adults. Hispanic adults had the greatest percentage point decrease in the uninsured rate between 2013 (40.6 percent) and 2015 (27.7 percent).

However, not all in the survey was positive, as adults between the ages of 25 and 34 were more than twice as likely as adults aged 45 to 64 to lack health insurance coverage—17.9 percent compared with 8.8 percent.

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