Census: U.S. uninsured rate increased in 2018 as Medicaid coverage declines

Individual mandate
The U.S. uninsured rate inched up in 2018 compared to 2017, the first year-to-year increase in nearly a decade, the U.S. Census Bureau reported. Image: Kerkez

The rate of people who are uninsured was up in 2018, the first year-over-year increase in nearly a decade, according to a report from the U.S. Census Bureau released Tuesday.

In 2018, 27.5 million Americans (8.5% of the U.S. population) didn’t have health insurance at any point in the year, thanks in part to a decline in Medicaid coverage, according to the report. That is up 7.5% from the 25.6 million people who were uninsured in 2017.

This is the first year-to-year increase in the percent of uninsured since 2008-2009, the Census Bureau said.

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The data released on Tuesday also showed the percentage of people with public coverage such as Medicare or Medicaid decreased slightly (0.4 percentage points) while the number of people with private or VA coverage didn’t "statistically change."

RELATED: Report: Uninsured rate hangs at about 9% in first half of 2018

According to the 2018 figures, the Census reported:

  • About 57 million people got coverage via Medicaid, compared with roughly 59 million people in 2017.
     
  • The coverage rate for Medicare, meanwhile, increased by 0.4 percentage points last year from 56.1 million in 2017 to 57.7 million in 2018.
     
  • As with prior years, a majority of Americans (67.7%) got private coverage either through an employer, on the individual market or via TRICARE. Another 34.8% got coverage through a public plan.

The report found that changes in the uninsured rate from 2017 to 2018 varied by poverty status and whether the state expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.

RELATED: 45% of the uninsured population out of the ACA's reach: KFF

The uninsured rate increased 0.6 percentage points in 2018 in states that did expand (to 3.5%) and increased 1.7 points in states that didn’t expand (to 6.2%).

As of Aug. 1, there have been 14 states that haven’t expanded Medicaid and another three where voters passed ballot measures to expand Medicaid but it hasn’t been implemented, according to the think tank Kaiser Family Foundation.

The estimates are based on data collected from the 2018 Current Population Survey and the American Community Survey.

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