Policy-ish

More Americans Have Health Insurance, But Not Many More

The nation's official measure of health insurance coverage turned positive for the first time in quite a while.

The Census Bureau reported a decline in the number of Americans without coverage in 2011. But the ranks of the uninsured remain pretty high.

All told, 48.6 million people, or 15.7 percent of the population, had no health insurance last year, down 1.4 million from 50 million in 2010.

It was the first time in a decade that the number of people with private coverage held stable instead of declined. government-provided coverage, mostly through Medicare and Medicaid, continued to grow.

One of the biggest increases in coverage — more than 2 percentage points — came for young adults aged 19 to 25. That age group has long been the most likely to be uninsured. But a popular plank of the 2010 federal health law has allowed millions of them to remain on their parents' health plans.

Another report out yesterday from the Kaiser Family Foundation and Health Research and Educational Trust underscored that point. It found 2.9 million young adults (up to age 26) who otherwise wouldn't have employer coverage are currently covered on their parents' plans. That's up from 2.3 million a year earlier.

Census Bureau chart showing trends in health insurance coverage since 1999. i i
Census Bureau
Census Bureau chart showing trends in health insurance coverage since 1999.
Census Bureau

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