Uninsured Rate Falls To Record Low 8.8 Percent

by Antonio Miles September 14, 2017, 0:55
Uninsured Rate Falls To Record Low 8.8 Percent

According to data released this week from the U.S. Census Bureau, only 8.8 percent of Americans were uninsured in 2016. Nationally, 8.8 percent of Americans - or 28.1 million people - were not covered by a private or government health plan in 2016, a decrease from the 9.1 percent who lacked insurance in 2015. It's the second consecutive annual decline for the measure.

The number of people without health insurance in Texas continues to decline, but the state still has more residents without coverage than anywhere in the nation.

The number of uninsured has fallen from 42 million in 2013 - before the ACA in 2014 allowed states to expand Medicaid, the federal-state program that provides coverage to low-income people, and provided federal subsidies to help lower- and middle-income Americans buy coverage on the insurance marketplaces. Between 2015 and 2016, the coverage rate increased 1.1 percent for people with incomes below 100 percent of the federal poverty level but decreased 1 percentage point for those with incomes between 200 and 299 percent of poverty. At that time, almost a quarter of Texans lacked health insurance. Using electronic health record data from 10 states that expanded Medicaid and six states that did not, a new study examined 359 community health centers and 870,319 patients with more than four million visits. "The fear is that [the 2016 uninsured rates] are not a true representation of what's happening now". The state also has low unemployment and a generous safety net, with robust Medicaid offerings and preventative health programs.

The figures further complicate GOP efforts to repeal ObamaCare, which have slowed in recent months. The uninsured rates vary from 2.5 percent in MA to 16.6 percent in Texas. "Between 2015 and 2016, the rate of Medicare coverage increased by 0.4 percentage points to cover 16.7 percent of people for part or all of 2016 (up from 16.3 percent in 2015)", Census said in its report.

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Like all of the other states with the highest uninsured rates, Georgia didn't expand Medicaid. The uninsured rate remains higher in 19 non-expansion states.

When Obama took office in 2009, during the worst economic recession since the Great Depression, more than 50 million Americans were uninsured, or almost 17 percent of the population. "Eleven states and the District of Columbia did not have a statistically significant change in their uninsured rate".

Shelby Livingston is an insurance reporter.

Gov. Tom Wolf says Pennsylvania's uninsured rate has hit a new low. Lawmakers passed a bill that offered anyone who didn't qualify for subsides a 25 percent discount on their plans, likely keeping people who would have dropped their plan otherwise. The uninsured rates for Blacks and Asians were higher than for non-Hispanic Whites, at 10.5 percent and 7.6 percent, respectively.


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