The share of Americans without health insurance fell for a second straight year, the Census Bureau announced today. The data suggest that gains in children’s coverage and private coverage among the non-elderly, as well as greater enrollment in Medicare, are the key contributors.
The new Census figures show:
The share of Americans without health coverage fell from 15.7 percent in 2011 to 15.4 percent in 2012, continuing the decline from the historically high uninsured rate of 16.3 percent in 2010. (The number of uninsured Americans remained steady at 48 million in 2012.)
The share of uninsured children fell from 9.4 percent in 2011 to 8.9 percent in 2012 due to gains in private coverage. Enrollment in Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) remained steady, likely in part because of a health reform requirement that states maintain their eligibility rules and procedures for Medicaid and CHIP.
The 8.9 percent uninsured rate among children is a historic low and 25 percent below the 1999 level (see graph). Studies show that health coverage not only improves children’s health but also helps them succeed in school by improving attendance and increasing attentiveness
The share of non-elderly people with private coverage rose from 64.8 percent in 2011 to 65.2 percent. The first such increase since 2000, it likely reflects the improving economy.
Medicare enrollment rose as the population aged. This increase, which contributed to the drop in the uninsured rate, likely occurred because previously uninsured near-elderly people became eligible for Medicare when they turned age 65.
We’ll take a closer look at the Census findings in a report tomorrow.