Health Insurance

 

According to American Community Survey data, in 2011, 15.1 percent of Americans lacked health insurance coverage, down from 15.5 percent in 2010. As of 2011, 46.4 million people remain uninsured, also down from 47.2 million in 2010.  A further examination of the uninsured population illustrates that minorities are more likely to be uninsured. The uninsured rate among Hispanics, Blacks, and Asians is 29.8%, 17.7% and 15.4% respectively. Additionally, those aged 18-64 are more likely to be uninsured (20.1%) than people who are under 18 (7.5%) or who are 65 and older (1.0%). This is due to the fact that the elderly are generally guaranteed coverage through Medicare, and that children under 18 can remain on their parent's plan and may receive coverage from Medicaid. Both educational attainment and household income are tied into health insurance coverage.  In 2011, the uninsured rate decreased as household income increased. 23.9% of households with annual income less than $25,000 were uninsured, compared to 7.3% of households with income over $75,000. Similarly, 31.1% of Americans with less than a high school degree were uninsured, compared to a 6.9% rate among people with a bachelor’s degree or higher.

 

Looking at those with insurance, since the start of the millennium, new trends have emerged in the type of insurance covering Americans. Based on data from the Current Population Survey, in 2000, 73.5% of Americans possessed private health insurance, compared with 24.4% covered under government insurance such as Medicare or Medicaid. By 2011, just 63.9% of Americans owned a private insurance plan. On the other hand, the percentage of Americans with government insurance had increased to 32.2%. The Great Recession fueled this trend. Many businesses eliminated employer-sponsored health insurance plans due to financial constraints. Furthermore, millions of Americans lost their jobs.  The combination of these two factors prompted a 9.0 percent decrease in people who received employer-sponsored coverage. Additionally, the downturn financially destabilized millions of Americans, compelling many to seek health insurance through Medicaid. From 2000 to 2011, the number of Americans utilizing Medicaid nearly doubled, and the percentage covered under the means-tested program rose from 9.9% to 16.5%. Coupled with an aging populace, which expanded the number of Americans who qualify to receive Medicare benefits, the number of Americans covered under government-sponsored insurance rose sharply, while those covered under private plans decreased.

Health Insurance