30 Million People of All Ages Uninsured in the U.S. In 2021

As the COVID-19 took hold in 2020, about 31.6 million people in the U.S. were uninsured, as reports from the Census Bureau show. Generally, the share of people with health insurance has remained stable over the past several years.

In this post, you will find all the latest data on why this occurs, including the difference in coverage across various age lines and demographics and the changes in figures over time.

Uninsured Rates before the Pandemic

The decade before the enactment of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in 2010, the uninsured rate in the country was well over 15%.

The provisions of the ACA went into effect in 2014, enabling states to expand their Medicaid eligibility and allowing for the seamless establishment of health insurance marketplaces.

The outcomes varied mainly by state, but the policies still contributed to a 3-percentage-point decrease in the share of uninsured people nationally in the first year.

With additional states adopting Medicaid in the mid-2010s, the uninsured rate spiraled downwards, falling below the 10% mark and holding.

Uninsured Rates In 2021

The early estimates from the National Health Interview Survey in 2021 revealed that about 30.0 million people of all ages were uninsured in the United States. The figure is a significant decrease from 2020.

The data that informed the research came from the 2021 National Health Interview Survey, presenting estimates of health insurance coverage for the civilian noninstitutionalized U.S. population. The selected trends were examined over three years, from 2019 to 2021.

At the time of the interview, 30 million people, representing 9.3% of the population, were uninsured. The number is lower than the 31.6 million people or 9.7% uninsured in 2020. The interview also unearthed figures for insurance coverage in several policies for adults between the ages of 18 to 64:

  • 5% were uninsured
  • 7% had public coverage
  • 6% had private health insurance coverage

Among children aged between 0 to 17 years:

  • 1% were uninsured
  • 3% had public coverage
  • 8% had private health insurance coverage

From 2019 through 2021, the rate of uninsured non-Hispanic White adults aged 18 to 64 decreased from 10.5 to 8.7%. In the same period, people aged below 65 years with exchanged-based coverage had a percentage increase from 3.7 to 4.3%.

Public and Private Health Insurance Coverage

The above Census report offered significant insights on the status of healthcare access in the U.S. amidst the pandemic. The sources of health insurance in the country are varied and traverse public and private sectors. The Census Bureau defines the programs in each sector as:

  • Private Insurance: Employment-based insurance plans, any plan bought from a marketplace. The same applies to TRICARE, which serves members of the military.
  • Public Insurance: These public marketplaces include Medicaid, Medicare, veterans’ health programs, and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).

The uninsured rates differ across states and are dependent on whether the states have entered Medicaid eligibility.

A total of 39 states and jurisdictions are already in the programs raising the number of people insured by Medicaid to 58 million in 2020.

It is also important to note that a higher proportion of working-age adults were insured in states that did not expand Medicaid.

Looking Forward

The number may have improved in the past decade, but 30 million Americans are still uninsured.

Moving forward, policymakers must continue making policies that will enhance the efficiency of U.S. healthcare systems and make them more affordable and accessible. Total healthcare spending in the U.S. is projected to account for about a fifth of the economy come 2025.

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