Questions for Emily P. Zammitti, M.P.H., Associate Service Fellow and Lead Author on “Health Insurance Coverage: Estimates from the National Health Interview Survey, January-June 2017”
Q: What is new in this report?
EZ: What’s new in this report is that we are putting out estimates based on data collected from January through June of 2017. For example, in the first 6 months of 2017, 9.0% of persons of all ages were uninsured, 36.4% had public coverage, and 62.6% had private coverage at the time of interview. For the first time using 2017 data, this report also presents state-level estimates for 11 states.
Q: What does your data show this year for Americans who have high-deductible health insurance plans compared to previous years?
EZ: We’re seeing a continued climb in the percentage enrolled in high-deductible health insurance plans. In the first 6 months of 2017, 42.9% of privately insured persons under age 65 were enrolled in a high-deductible health plan, or an HDHP. Enrollment in HDHPs has increased from 25.3% in 2010, and more recently, has increased from 39.4% in 2016.
Q: How has coverage through tax-advantaged health savings account insurance plans changed in 2017?
EZ: This is another area where we’re seeing a statistically significant increase – Americans enrolled in tax-advantaged health savings account insurance plans. Among persons under age 65 who had private health insurance coverage, the percentage who had a high-deductible health plan with a health savings account, or a consumer-directed health plan, has more than doubled, from 7.7% in 2010 to 17.4% in the first 6 months of 2017. More recently, the percentage of those enrolled in a consumer-directed health plan increased from 15.5% in 2016 to 17.4%.
Q: Are a lot of Americans finding coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplaces?
EZ: This new report does offer updated statistics on the number of Americans finding coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplaces. Among persons under age 65, 65.4% (176.8 million people) were covered by private health insurance plans at the time of interview in the first 6 months of 2017. This includes 3.7% (10.1 million people) covered by private plans obtained through the Health Insurance Marketplace or state-based exchanges.
Q: What do you see in state-level estimates of health insurance coverage this year so far?
EZ: This report presents estimates of health insurance coverage in the first half of 2017 for 11 states: California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Michigan, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Virginia. Of these 11 states, in the first 6 months of 2017, the percentage of adults aged 18-64 who were uninsured was highest in Texas (25.1%), and lowest in New York (7.0%). Despite variation in the uninsured estimates between 2016 and the first 6 months of 2017, none of the differences for any of the 11 selected states were significant.
Q: What is the take-home message from this report?
EZ: I think the real take-home message from this report is found in the number of Americans who no longer lack health insurance. In the first 6 months of 2017, 28.8 million (9.0%) persons of all ages were uninsured at the time of interview. This estimate is not significantly different from 2016, but there are 19.8 million fewer uninsured persons than in 2010.