Uninsured Rate Dropped to 8.9% in First Half of 2016, CDC Reports

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By Sara Hansard

Nov. 3 — The percentage of uninsured people in the U.S. dropped to 8.9 percent—28.4 million people of all ages—in the first six months of 2016, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Nov. 3.

The report showed a decline in the number of uninsured of 20.2 million people since 2010, the year the Affordable Care Act was enacted. But the number of uninsured declined by only 200,000 people since 2015, not a significant drop, the CDC said. Among adults ages 18 to 64, 12.4 percent were uninsured, while 69.2 percent had private health insurance and 20 percent had public coverage, the CDC reported.

A small number of people were covered by both public and private plans and were included in both categories, resulting in the percentages adding up to slightly more than 100 percent, a CDC press spokesman told Bloomberg BNA in an e-mail.

The CDC report is further confirmation that gains in the number of people with health insurance as a result of the ACA are likely reaching their end. The number of uninsured “can still edge down but most of what we’re going to get out of Obamacare we’ve gotten now,” Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index Director Dan Witters told Bloomberg BNA.

Percentage of adults 18-64 who were uninsured or had private or public coverage at the time of interview: United States, 1997-June 2016

“There still will be 20 to 25 million without health insurance in this country,” Witters said. “It’s not realistic to think it will get much lower than 9 percent” uninsured, he said.

Gallup-Healthways estimates a reduction of about 16.1 million American adults without health insurance since 2013, the last year before the ACA’s primary health insurance reforms took effect.

Most of the states that are going to expand Medicaid under the law have already done so, and “the ones that haven’t are not going to,” Witters said. Thirty-one states and the District of Columbia have expanded Medicaid under the law, leaving 19 states that haven’t. “There’s not going to be a lot more juice in that squeeze,” he said.

Among adults ages 18 to 64, the percentage with private coverage through the ACA’s health insurance marketplaces changed marginally, resulting in the same percentage both years. The survey found 4.8 percent (9.3 million) had coverage through the marketplaces in the second quarter of 2015 and 4.8 percent (9.4 million) had coverage in the second quarter of 2016. Most people 65 years and older are in the federal Medicare program.

The percentage of people under age 65 enrolled in a private-insurance, high-deductible health plan increased from 25.3 percent in 2010 and 36.7 percent in 2015 to 38.8 percent in the first six months of 2016, the CDC said. High-deductible health plans, which are often coupled with health savings accounts that feature tax advantages, require enrollees to pay relatively high deductibles in exchange for lower premiums.

To contact the reporter on this story: Sara Hansard in Washington at shansard@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Brian Broderick at bbroderick@bna.com

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