New Data Show Estimated Uninsured Rate In 2021 Recovers Slightly From Highs Of 2020

Uninsured rate in 2021 down from the highs of 2020

Source: Fierce Healthcare, by Robert King

An estimated 30 million people did not have insurance coverage last year, bringing the uninsured rate to 9.2%—only slightly below the major high of 9.7% from 2020, new federal data show.

The National Center for Health Statistics released its latest report Thursday on estimates for health insurance coverage last year. The data showed slight gains in insurance coverage from public programs.

The report showed that last year, among adults 18 to 64, there were 13.5% who were uninsured at the time of the interview while 21.7% had public coverage and 66.6% got private insurance.

 
 

Among children up to 17 years old, 4.1% were uninsured, 44.3% had coverage from a public program and 53.8% were in private coverage.

Even though the uninsured rate dipped slightly compared to 2020, there were minimal changes among certain age groups.

For instance, the percentage among adults 18 to 64 didn’t change that much from 2020 (13.9%) to last year at 13.5%. But there was a significant difference between the percentage of adults who were uninsured in 2019, 14.7%, but declined to 13.5% last year.

There was also a boost among adults that had public insurance coverage in 2021, with 21.7% getting such coverage last year compared with 20.5% in 2019.

The increase in public health coverage comes amid major moves by the federal government and Congress to increase affordability of coverage on the Affordable Care Act’s exchanges. Increased subsidies from the American Rescue Plan Act helped spur a record-breaking 14.5 million in sign-ups for the exchanges this year.

Other pandemic-related flexibilities included a boost to federal matching rates for Medicaid coverage and a requirement that states not disenroll anyone from their Medicaid rolls.

However, the eligibility redetermination freeze is expected to last until the end of the public health emergency, which could expire this summer. The enhanced subsidies are also expected to go away after this year, but there is an effort in Congress to extend them.

 

The center emphasized that the report only contains early release estimates that still could change. The estimates are based on data from the 2021 National Health Interview Survey, which is based on information collected from nearly 30,000 adults and 8,293 children.

Rate of Employer Coverage Rises After Massachusetts Health Reform

In the seven years since Massachusetts enacted its universal healthcare law, the number of people covered by insurance through the workplace increased, running counter to nationwide trends. Employer-sponsored insurance rose about 1% in Massachusetts while the national rate fell 5.7%. The Massachusetts growth occurred in the midst of the recession and at a time when health insurance premiums in the state rose to the highest levels in the nation, according to a study by PwC’s Health Research Institute.
Michael Thompson of PwC said, “Health insurance benefits are a significant part of the total compensation package for a workforce, and that’s not likely to go away when the Affordable Care Act goes into full effect. Employer-sponsored coverage will continue to be a critical pillar of the U.S. health system. It has been an important part of employer strategy to attract and retain talent, and promote improved health and productivity. Most employers see this return on investment, alone, as a compelling reason to continue offering coverage.”

A combination of salary and health benefits through an employer is likely to be more efficient way to be compensated for Americans earning more than 400% of the federal poverty level or about $45,960, according to researchers. Due to federal tax exclusions, businesses can save thousands of dollars per-employee by using that compensation strategy. The second report on the Massachusetts Experience, to be later this month, will take a closer look at the implications for the state’s hospitals, physicians and insurers. To download the report, visit: http://www.pwc.com/us/Massachusettshealthreform.

Last Updated 05/25/2022

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