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Health Cover, U.S.A.: Uninsured Americans Drop to below 10%

May 2016

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The National Center for Health Statistics (NHCS) in May 2016 reported that the percentage of Americans without health insurance has dropped below 10%, mostly due to provisions in the 2010 Affordable Care Act (ACA) that give federal premium subsidies to low-income individuals to help them underwrite the cost of health insurance. In many cases, the insured pay little or no money to be included under health plans available in the Health Care Marketplace. The drop is also attributed to the expansion of state Medicare programs, another heavily-federally-financed measure.

2015 saw the uninsured rate drop to 9.1%, down from 11.5% in 2014, and this was a significant decline from 16% uninsured in 2010. Accordingly, 2015 saw 28.6 million people uninsured, whereas 36 million people were uninsured during 2014.

Broken down by state, the number of uninsured varies, with Massachusetts claiming the lowest rate of uninsured residents at 2.2%, while Texas has the highest at 16.8%. Out of all 50 states including the District of Columbia, only 12.8% of adults aged 18-64 were uninsured in 2015 compared to 16.3% in 2014, and the number of uninsured children (ages 0-17) fell from 5.5% in 2014 to 4.5% in 2015. The survey also found that 36.7% of those under age 65 with private health insurance coverage were enrolled in what are considered to be high-deductible plans ($1,300 for single coverage and $2,600 for family coverage).

The news is also encouraging when one considers long-term trends, from 1997 to 2010, when the percentage of uninsured adults generally increased. The report also highlights short-term trends by age, poverty status, and race/ethnicity, as well as data for periods of non-coverage, and data pertaining to private exchange coverage versus health insurance coverage by state health insurance marketplaces.

The NCHS bases their findings on data from the 2015 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) along with comparable estimates from the 2010-2014 NHIS. The estimates for 2015 are based on data for 103,798 survey participants. The report includes tables that show estimates by selected demographics and is updated quarterly as part of the NHIS Early Release (ER) Program, which releases updated selected estimates available from the NHIS website: http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/nhis.htm.

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