Uninsured rate hits an all-time low despite slower decline

(Getty/Minerva Studio)

The uninsured rate in the United States is historically low, but new data also indicates that the rate at which individuals are obtaining coverage has slowed considerably.

Through the first quarter of 2016, the uninsured rate stood at 8.6 percent, according to survey data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which translates to 27.3 million people. That’s a precipitous drop from 2010, when 16 percent of individuals did not have health coverage, but the year-over-year decline from 9.1 percent in 2015, was “not statistically significant,” according CDC officials.

In total, 1.3 million people gained insurance coverage from 2015 to 2016, according the survey. However, younger adults and low-income individuals remained much more likely to forgo coverage. In the first three months of 2016, 15.9 percent of adults 25-34 and 14.3 percent of adults 18-24 were uninsured, compared to 8.1 percent of adults 45-64. Nearly 1 in 4 adults classified as poor did not have insurance, a figure that has dropped considerably since 2013, but has remained virtually stagnant since last year. Those identified as “near poor” followed a nearly identical trajectory.

Hispanic and black populations reported the highest uninsured levels at 24.5 percent and 13 percent, respectively. Both groups have seen significant insurance gains since 2013, but continue to be elusive populations for insurers to reach.

Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell, in a statement to the Associated Press, emphasized the historic number of uninsured individuals. Other experts, though, highlighted the difficulty of seeing larger gains following the law’s initial push.

“The share of the population without health insurance is lower than it’s ever been ... but further gains are getting harder and harder to achieve," Larry Levitt, of the Kaiser Family Foundation, told the AP. “The pace at which people are getting newly insured has noticeably slowed.”

Previous government reports have indicated that subsidies tied to Affordable Care Act plans are a main driver behind the declining uninsured rate.