Health insurance gains fall short of what we could have had

Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2015

By Jessica C. Barnett and Marina Vornovitsky
United States Census Bureau, September 2016

Highlights (excerpts)

*  The uninsured rate decreased between 2014 and 2015 by 1.3 percentage points as measured by the CPS ASEC. In 2015, the percentage of people without health insurance coverage for the entire calendar year was 9.1 percent, or 29.0 million, lower than the rate and number of uninsured in 2014 (10.4 percent or 33.0 million).

*  The percentage of people with health insurance coverage for all or part of 2015 was 90.9 percent, higher than the rate in 2014 (89.6 percent).

*  In 2015, private health insurance coverage continued to be more prevalent than public coverage, at 67.2 percent and 37.1 percent, respectively. Of the subtypes of health insurance, employer-based insurance covered 55.7 percent of the population for some or all of the calendar year, followed by Medicaid (19.6 percent), Medicare (16.3 percent), direct-purchase (16.3 percent), and military cover- age (4.7 percent).

*  In 2015, the percentage of uninsured children under age 19 was 5.3 percent. This was a decrease from 6.2 percent in 2014.

*  In 2015, the uninsured rate for children under age 19 in poverty, 7.5 percent, was higher than the uninsured rate for children not in poverty, 4.8 percent.

*  In 2015, non-Hispanic Whites had the lowest uninsured rate among race and Hispanic origin groups, at 6.7 percent. The uninsured rates for Blacks and Asians were higher than for non-Hispanic Whites, at 11.1 percent and 7.5 percent, respectively. Hispanics had the highest uninsured rate in 2015, at 16.2 percent.


Income and Poverty in the United States: 2015

By Bernadette D. Proctor, Jessica L. Semega, and Melissa A. Kollar
United States Census Bureau, September 2016

Highlights (excerpts)

*  Median household income was $56,516 in 2015, an increase in real terms of 5.2 percent from the 2014 median of $53,718.

*  The 2015 real median earnings of men ($51,212) and women ($40,742) who worked full time, year round increased 1.5 percent and 2.7 percent, respectively, between 2014 and 2015.

*  In 2015 there were 43.1 million people in poverty, 3.5 million less than in 2014.

*  The 2015 poverty rate was 1.0 percentage point higher than in 2007, the year before the most recent recession.

*  The income deficit for families in poverty (the difference in dollars between a family’s income and its poverty threshold) averaged $10,118 in 2015, which was not statistically different from the inflation-adjusted 2014 estimate.

Income Inequality

Since 1993, the earliest year available for comparable measures of income inequality, the Gini index was up 5.5 percent. Comparing changes in household income at selected percentiles shows that income inequality has increased from 1999 (the year that household income peaked before the 2001 recession) to 2015 (Table A-2). Incomes at the 50th and 10th percentiles declined 2.4 percent and 9.9 percent, respectively, while income at the 90th percentile increased 5.7 percent between 1999 and 2015. Since 1999, the 90th to 10th percentile income ratio (10.42 in 1999 and 12.23 in 2015) has increased 17.4 percent.


PNHP release on Census health insurance report:



By Don McCanne, M.D.

The good news is that more people than ever now have health insurance. The bad news is that 29 million people remain uninsured with little hope that this number will decrease significantly because of our flawed model of health care financing. The other bad news, which does not appear in this report, is that costs are up, out-of-pocket spending is less affordable, and patients are losing choice of their health care professionals.

Great news is that median household income is up, and there are 3.5 million fewer people living in poverty. The terrible news is that we still have 43 million people in poverty. Further, the increase in median income was not enough to reverse the trend in income inequality which has prevented low- and middle-income workers from getting ahead.

It must be disappointing for many of those with income gains to have the additional funds consumed by higher insurance premiums, larger deductibles, and costs of unavoidable out-of-network care. It is particularly a shame when we know that we can improve health care equity by simply changing to a single payer national health program.

Providing the 29 million uninsured with health care should be the easy step. Then we can intensify our efforts in addressing the more difficult problem of improving the living standards for the 43 million still living in poverty. But charity alone won’t do it. We need efficacious public policies and a government that will enact and implement them.