Health Insurance Coverage: Early Release of Estimates From the National Health Interview Survey, January-September 2016

Michael Martinez, M.P.H., M.H.S.A., Epidemiologist and Health Statistician

Michael Martinez, M.P.H., M.H.S.A., Epidemiologist and Health Statistician

Questions for Michael Martinez, M.P.H., M.H.S.A., Epidemiologist, Health Statistician and Lead Author on “Health Insurance Coverage: Early Release of Estimates From the National Health Interview Survey, January-September 2016

Q: What do you think is the most significant finding in your new study?

MM: I think the most significant finding in this study is the snapshot view of varied health insurance types. While from January through September 2016, among adults aged 18 to 64, 12.3% were uninsured at the time of interview, 20.3% had public coverage, and 69.0% had private health insurance coverage. Among the 136.0 million adults in this age group with private coverage, 9.3 million–or 4.7%–were covered by private health insurance plans obtained through the Health Insurance Marketplace or state-based exchanges during the first 9 months of 2016.


Q: How did health insurance coverage in the United States compare in the first 9 months of 2016 to 2015 and 2010?

MM: We’ve observed a number of changes in health insurance coverage between 2010 and 2015 compared to the first 9 months of 2016. Between 2010 and the first 9 months of 2016, 20.4 million persons of all ages gained coverage. In the first 9 months of 2016, 28.2 million (8.8%) persons of all ages were uninsured at the time of interview, compared with 48.6 million (16.0%) persons in 2010 and 28.6 million (9.1%) persons in 2015. The difference in uninsured estimates between 2015 and the first 9 months of 2016 was not significant.


Q: Where do high-deductible plans through private health insurance fit into 2016 estimates compared to earlier years?

MM: Among private health insurance plans, enrollment in high-deductible health plans has been increasing in recent years. 39.1% of persons under age 65 with private health insurance were enrolled in high-deductible health plans in the first 9 months of 2016. This percentage has increased significantly, from 25.3% in 2010 and from 36.7% in 2015.


Q: What are the trends among race and ethnicity groups in health insurance coverage this year and compared over time?

MM: There’s been quite a bit of change in health insurance coverage among race and ethnicity groups over the years. For example, in the first 9 months of 2016, 24.7% of Hispanic, 15.1% of non-Hispanic black, 8.5% of non-Hispanic white, and 7.8% of non-Hispanic Asian adults aged 18–64 lacked health insurance coverage at the time of interview. Significant decreases in the percentage of uninsured adults were observed between 2013 and the first 9 months of 2016 for Hispanic, non-Hispanic black, non-Hispanic white, and non-Hispanic Asian adults. Hispanic adults had the greatest percentage point decrease in the uninsured rate between 2013 (40.6%) and the first 9 months of 2016 (24.7%).


Q: How is health insurance coverage looking this year for our youngest population – children under 18 years of age?

MM: From January through September 2016, among children under 18 years of age, 5.0% were uninsured at the time of interview, 43.4% had public coverage, and 53.5% had private health insurance coverage. Among the 39.3 million children under 18 years of age with private coverage, 1.7 million or 2.3% were covered by private health insurance plans obtained through the Health Insurance Marketplace or state-based exchanges during the first 9 months of 2016.

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