On September 10, 2019, the U.S. Census Bureau released a report that analyzed health insurance coverage in the United States for 2018. This report shows how the number of uninsured Americans rose to 8.5 percent of the population – an increase of 1.9 million people or 0.5 percent. In the aggregate, 27.5 million Americans were uninsured in 2018. Medicaid saw the sharpest decrease in enrollment, as those covered by the program fell 0.7 percent in 2018. A mere 17.9 percent of the population now receives coverage through Medicaid. Among different ethnic groups, Hispanics experienced the largest decrease in insurance enrollment as insurance coverage among this population fell 1.6 percent between 2017 and 2018.
Coverage losses could be tied to several federal and state actions. For instance, the Administration has cut funding for outreach and enrollment and revoked a subsidy to make insurance more affordable. Additionally, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) also approved plans to implement work requirements in state Medicaid programs and the Department of Homeland Security issued a rule that will make it harder for immigrants to obtain citizenship if they receive public benefits from the United States, which includes receiving health coverage through Medicaid. Additionally, Congress eliminated the individual mandate, which requires people to obtain health coverage or pay a fine. In combination, these actions either directly disenroll people from their health coverage or they strongly disincentivize obtaining health coverage.
Will this trend continue into 2020? Time will tell. Health care is a big election year issue. All eyes are on both parties for solutions to reduce the number of uninsured Americans and the overall cost of health care.
Aimed Alliance will continue to provide updates on these issues as they evolve.