New U.S. Census Bureau data on health insurance coverage and poverty will come out Tuesday morning. Policymakers and health experts are looking to see just how low the uninsured rate was in 2015.
But the poverty figures also will shine a light on American income levels, and whether more people are spending more of their earnings on healthcare because of stagnating wages.
Last September, Census data showed 10.4% of Americans went without health coverage in 2014, the first full year of the Affordable Care Act's subsidized health coverage through Medicaid expansion and the new insurance exchanges. The 2014 rate was a sharp decline from the 13.3% uninsured rate the Census Bureau tallied in 2013.
The uninsured rate for 2015 almost certainly will fall below 10%. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention's National Health Interview Survey from earlier this year pegged the nation's uninsured rate in 2015 at 9.1%, resulting in about 28.6 million Americans who had no health insurance.
Despite the decreasing ranks of the uninsured, families are treading water financially. Median household income in 2014 was $53,657, which was not significantly higher than the prior year, according to last year's Census Bureau report. Figures from 2013 were 6.5% lower than 2007, right before the economic collapse.
Medical out-of-pocket expenses have had a direct influence on whether people descend into poverty. The 2014 supplemental poverty measure rate of 15.3% would have been lower, at 11.8%, if medical expenses were not subtracted from income.