Number of Uninsured Americans Rises For First Time In Decade (#GotBitcoin?)
Reversal comes after 2010 Affordable Care Act expanded insurance coverage to millions of Americans. Number of Uninsured Americans Rises For First Time In Decade (#GotBitcoin?)
The number of Americans without health insurance climbed to 27.5 million in 2018, according to new federal data that shows the first increase since the passage of the Affordable Care Act.
The increase follows years of steady declines in the number of uninsured and comes amid Trump administration efforts to curtail the Obama-era health law. The 27.5 million people without health coverage represents 8.5% of Americans, up from 7.9%, or 25.6 million people, in 2017, according to a report Tuesday from the Census Bureau.
The rise will give fresh ammunition to Democratic presidential candidates who have made expanding coverage a central campaign plank. Republicans are likely to blame the climb in the nation’s uninsured on higher premiums under the ACA.
The decrease appears to be driven by a drop in coverage under public health programs such as Medicaid, according to the report. Between 2017 and 2018, the number of people covered by Medicaid decreased by 0.7 percentage point to 17.9%.
“As the economy continues to slowly improve, people’s incomes were maybe going up a bit and that was enough to pull them out of Medicaid but not enough for job-based coverage,” said Rachel Garfield, a vice president at the nonprofit Kaiser Family Foundation.
The ACA made strides in reducing the number of uninsured in large part through the expansion of Medicaid.
Enrollment in Medicaid rose by 14.7 million people between 2013 and 2019, with most of the increase coming in states that opted to expand the federal-state program for low-income and unemployed people.
The percentage of people with health insurance coverage for all or part of 2018 was 91.5%, compared with 92.1% in 2017. The number of people covered by private insurance didn’t change.
Among adults aged 19 to 64, the population aged 19 to 25 was among the most likely to be uninsured, according to the census data. That demographic had an uninsured rate of 14.3%.
Democrats have repeatedly blamed the Trump administration for actions to undermine the ACA, including the introduction of work requirements on Medicaid in some states, which led to coverage losses. Congressional Republicans also ended the ACA’s penalty on people who don’t have insurance, which also prodded some people to forgo coverage.
Republicans have said any increase in the uninsured is a sign the health law is failing. They blame the ACA’s regulations for driving up premiums that they say people can’t afford.
“It’s just too expensive,” said Grace-Marie Turner, president of the Galen Institute, a public policy free-market research organization. “People are siphoning themselves off.”
In 2018, the average premium for a benchmark plan—the gross amount not including any premium tax credits—was about 34% higher than it was in 2017, according to a report by the Congressional Budget Office.
Earlier data had indicated an uptick in the number of uninsured so the findings didn’t surprise some policy analysts. They said a host of factors are at play, including a move by some GOP-led states to impose new administrative burdens on Medicaid beneficiaries that may have resulted in some people losing coverage. People who get subsidies on the ACA exchanges are largely protected from the impact of the higher costs.
The rise in uninsured comes despite a growing economy with strong wage growth and thousands of new jobs.
Nevertheless, more people are going without coverage, including children.
The Census report said that the percentage of uninsured children under the age of 19 increased by 0.6 percentage point between 2017 and 2018.
The decreases are expected to embolden 2020 presidential candidates such as Sens. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts who back Medicare for All, which would provide a federal government health system.
“I think the American people are catching on that they want a health-care system that guarantees health care for all, not a system that makes $100 billion a year in profit for the health care industry,” Mr. Sanders said in a recent interview with Colorado Matters, a Colorado Public Radio news show.
It could also rally support for the expansion of Medicaid in states that haven’t yet grown the program.
Advocates in Oklahoma and Missouri are pushing to get ballot initiatives on Medicaid expansion in the 2020 election.
The uninsured rate in 2018 increased by 0.6 percentage point in states that expanded Medicaid, to 3.5%, for people living at or above 400% of poverty, or about $80,000 for a family of three, according to the census data.
It rose 1.7 percentage points to 6.2% in states that didn’t expand Medicaid for this group.
Thirty-seven states and Washington, D.C. have expanded Medicaid under the ACA. Number of Uninsured Americans,Number of Uninsured Americans
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