Questions for Robin Cohen, Ph.D., Health Statistician and Lead Author on “Health Insurance Coverage: Early Release of Estimates From the National Health Interview Survey, 2016”
Q: Have the total number of uninsured leveled off since the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was implemented?
RC: In 2016, 28.6 million or 9.0% of persons of all ages were uninsured at the time of interview, this is 20 million fewer persons than in 2010 and no change from 2015. However, it is too soon to tell if there has been a leveling off in the number of uninsured.
Q: Since 2010, were there any trends among uninsured adults by age groups?
RC: Among adults aged 18–64, the rate of uninsurance at the time of interview remained relatively stable from 2010 through 2013 for all age groups except adults aged 18–24. Among adults aged 18–24 the percentage of those who were uninsured decreased from 31.5% in 2010 to 25.9% in 2011, and then remained stable through 2013. For all age groups, the percentage who were uninsured decreased significantly from 2013 through 2016.
Q: What did your report find on state-specific health insurance estimates for 2016?
RC: State-specific health insurance estimates for persons aged 18–64 in 2016 are presented for 45 states. Among these 45 states presented for 2016, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Washington, and Wisconsin had significantly lower percentages of uninsured adults than the national average (12.4%). Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oklahoma, and Texas had significantly higher percentages of uninsured adults than the national average. Among the 45 states presented in this report, only California had a significant decrease in the percentage of adults aged 18–64 who were uninsured between 2015 (11.1%) and 2016 (9.5%).
Q: How come you only have data for 45 states instead of the whole country?
RC: Estimates are not presented for all 50 states and the District of Columbia due to considerations of sample size and precision. States with fewer than 1,000 interviews for persons of all ages are excluded. In addition, estimates for children in states that did not have at least 300 children with completed interviews are not presented.
Q: Was there anything in your report that surprised you?
RC: The percentage of persons aged 18–64 who were enrolled in exchange plans has remained relatively stable from the first quarter of 2016 (4.7% or 9.2 million) through the fourth quarter of 2016 (4.8% of 9.4) million. This was surprising because for both 2014 and 2015 we observed a drop in exchange coverage in the fourth quarter.