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September 13, 2017

Uninsured rate reaches record low, Census Bureau reports

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The number of U.S residents without health insurance fell to a record low of 28.1 million people, accounting for 8.8 percent of the population, in 2016, according to new data released Tuesday by the U.S. Census Bureau.

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According to Kaiser Health News, the Census numbers are considered the gold standard for calculating uninsured rates because they are based on surveys with large sample sizes.

Report findings

According to the report, both the overall number of uninsured individuals and the U.S. uninsured rate hit record lows in 2016. The number of U.S. residents without health insurance is down from 29 million in 2015, and the uninsured rate is down from 9.1 percent in 2015.

The uninsured rate has dropped nearly in half since 2010, when the Affordable Care Act was passed and 16.3 percent of the U.S. population lacked health insurance.   

The Census report found that in 2016, private health coverage "continued to be more prevalent than government coverage, at 67.5 percent and 37.3 percent, respectively." The report found:

  • 55.7 percent of U.S. residents had employer-sponsored health plans;
  • 19.4 percent were covered by Medicaid;
  • 16.7 percent were covered by Medicare;
  • 16.2 percent were covered by directly purchased individual health plans, including those sold on the ACA's exchanges; and
  • 4.6 percent were covered by military-based health plans.   

The report found the uninsured rate in 2016 was:

  • 16 percent among Hispanics;
  • 10.5 percent among Blacks;
  • 7.6 percent among Asians; and
  • 6.3 percent among non-Hispanic White U.S. residents.

By the state

The uninsured rate in most states fell in 2016, with just 11 states experiencing no decline, according to the report.

The report found states that expanded their Medicaid programs under the ACA saw the greatest declines in uninsured rates in 2016. The average uninsured rate across Medicaid expansion states was 6.5 percent, compared with 11.7 percent among non-expansion states.

Texas continued to have the highest uninsured rate at 16.6 percent, while Massachusetts had the lowest at 2.5 percent (Mangan, CNBC, 9/12; Galewitz, Kaiser Health News, 9/12; Herman, Axios, 9/12).

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