The U.S. uninsured rate fell to another historic low in 2015, and premiums for employer-based plans barely budged in 2016. But those positive insurance numbers mask the fact that more Americans are becoming “underinsured” and face higher out-of-pocket obligations.
“I think it's the biggest change in healthcare in America that we are not really debating,” Kaiser Family Foundation CEO Drew Altman said.
In addition, premium rates are still rising at a faster annual clip than wages and inflation. Many Republican-led states also have refused to expand Medicaid eligibility under the Affordable Care Act, leaving millions of people uninsured who otherwise could have health coverage.
Two highly regarded studies of health insurance came out last week. Each offered a broader look at the state of coverage in the country that spans well beyond the politically contentious exchanges that have suffered from insurer pullouts and will likely see much-higher premium prices for next year.
New data from the U.S. Census Bureau confirmed just 9.1% of Americans had no health insurance in 2015, the lowest rate ever recorded and a figure that has been pinned to the ACA coverage expansion. Uninsured rates went down across nearly all races, age groups and income levels from 2014 to 2015. Young, working-age adults and Hispanics continue to have the highest uninsured rates. States that haven't expanded Medicaid, such as Texas and Florida, also had higher uninsured rates than those that did expand.