The percentage of people in the United States without health insurance increased in 2018 over the year before, largely because of a decline in Medicaid coverage, according to a report released Tuesday by the U.S. Census Bureau.
The increase in the uninsured rate is the first observed since the major provisions of the Affordable Care Act took effect in 2014. It occurred despite a strong economy and a significant decrease in the number of people with incomes below the poverty line.
According to the report, 8.5% of Americans, or 27.5 million, were uninsured in 2018, meaning they did not have health insurance at any point during the year. That rate is up from 7.9%, or 25.6 million people, in 2017.
The percentage of people covered by Medicaid dropped by almost 2 million people to 57.8 million, or 17.9% of all people in the country. The number of people in private plans offered through their employers, the individual marketplace or TRICARE also declined by about 430,000 people to 217.8 million, or 67.3% of all Americans.
Meanwhile, about 1.6 million more people were enrolled in Medicare in 2018 compared with the year before, bringing Medicare membership to 57.7 million, or 17.8% of the country. The Census Bureau said the increase was partly due to the growth in the number of people aged 65 years and older.
The overall uninsured rate increased despite a lower poverty rate and growth in workers' earnings. A separate Census Bureau report also released Tuesday showed that the poverty rate in 2018 decreased 0.5 percentage points to 11.8% — the first time in 11 years the poverty rate was significantly lower than in 2007, the year before the most recent economic recession.
While the median household income was flat year over year, the number of full-time, year-round workers increased by 2.3 million in 2018. Workers' earnings also increased 3.4% to $40,247.