Report shows uninsured rate rises as 4 million lose coverage since 2016

Joseph Burns

About Joseph Burns

Joseph Burns (@jburns18), a Massachusetts-based independent journalist, is AHCJ’s topic leader on health insurance. He welcomes questions and suggestions on insurance resources and tip sheets at joseph@healthjournalism.org.

Image: The Commonwealth Fund

The rate of working-age Americans who lack health insurance rose to 15.5 percent, up from 12.7 percent in 2016, according to a report the Commonwealth Fund published today. The latest Commonwealth Fund ACA Tracking Survey shows an estimated 4 million Americans lost health insurance coverage since 2016.

The report is based on a telephone survey of working-age Americans that was done from Feb. 6 to March 30. The analysis to track the uninsured rate is the first one of 2018, the report says.

“The marked gains in health insurance coverage made since the passage of the Affordable Care Act in 2010 are beginning to reverse,” the Commonwealth Fund said. “The coverage declines are likely the result of two major factors:

  1. Lack of federal legislative action to improve weaknesses in the ACA and
  2. Actions by the administration that have exacerbated those weaknesses.”

Adults in households earning less than 250 percent of the federal poverty level (about $30,000 for an individual and $61,000 for a family of four) were hit hardest. The uninsured rate among these families rose significantly, from 20.9 percent in 2016 to 25.7 percent in 2018, the report shows.

In the 19 states that have yet to expand their Medicaid programs, the uninsured rates also rose significantly. The uninsured rate in southern states continued to be higher than the uninsured rates in the Northeast, Midwest and West, and the uninsured rate in southern states rose sharply from 16 percent in 2016 to 20 percent, the report says.

In addition, the uninsured rates among of those who identify as Republicans rose 6 percentage points and almost doubled from 7.9 percent in 201 to 13.9 percent this spring, the report says. The uninsured rate among those who identify as Democrats remained unchanged at 9.1 percent.

The ACA Tracking Survey is a nationally representative telephone survey that tracks coverage rates among adults aged 19 to 64 year-olds, the report says. It has focused on the experiences of adults who gained coverage through the ACA marketplaces and Medicaid. For the most recent survey, researchers interviewed a random, nationally representative sample of 2,403 adults aged 19 to 64 years old. Conducted from Feb. 6 until March 30, the survey included 638 adults who have had coverage from the individual market, an ACA marketplace, or Medicaid. The findings from the most recent survey were compared to prior ACA Tracking Survey results.

Covering Health has covered the uninsured rate over the past few years. See for example, this blog post on the uninsured rate in 2016, and this post on the rate of those who are underinsured.

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