CDC Reports Record Low Rate of Uninsured, But Progress Slows

Uninsured rates are much higher in states that have not expanded Medicaid, according to a CDC report.

The nation’s uninsured rate has reached a record low of 8.6%, but the pace of driving down the uninsured rate is slowing more than 6 years after passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), according to data released Wednesday by the CDC. The nation’s uninsured rate was 16% in 2010, with wide disparities by age, race, and geography.

Overall, 21.3 million people have become covered due to the ACA, but 27.3 million remained without coverage. That number is 1.3 million fewer than in 2015. In the first 3 months of 2016, among adults age 18 to 64, 11.9% were uninsured, 19.5% had public coverage, and 70.2% had private health insurance.

It will be increasingly difficult to move adults from the ranks of the uninsured unless more states pursue Medicaid expansion. Louisiana became the 31st state to do so this summer, and at last report had enrolled 289,000 people since June 1, 2016, for coverage that began on July 1. Adults in Medicaid expansion states were less likely to be uninsured than those who live in states that have not pursued expansion:

  • In expansion states, the uninsured rate decreased from 18.4% in 2013 to 9.2% by the first 3 months of 2016.
  • In nonexpansion states, the uninsured rate percentage of uninsured still declined, but remains high. The rate fell from 22.7% in 2013 to 16.7% in the first 3 months of 2016.

All age groups have seen uninsured rates decline. Those between the ages 18 to 24 saw a large decline early on in the life of the ACA, when they were able to remain on their parents’ coverage through age 26. The uninsured rates for that age group fell from 31.5% in 2010 to 25.9% in 2011 and are now 13.7%. Those ages 25 to 34 have an uninsured rate of 15.9%, while those ages 35 to 44 have a rate of 14.3%.

Those age 45 to 64 have an insured rate of 8.1%, below the overall average, suggesting that this group is the most active in buying coverage as they age and use more healthcare. The concern among insurers has been that the risk pool is overburdened by individuals with high costs, and that Americans are waiting until they are sick to buy coverage.

Children are increasingly covered by public plans, with 42.1% covered this way and 54.9% under private plans in the first 3 months of 2016. Another 5% remained uninsured.

The report also found that high deductible plans are increasingly common, with the share of people having these plans rising from 25.3% in 2010 to 36.7% in 2015, and to 40% in the first 3 months of 2016.