The national uninsured rate fell to an all-time low of 8% in the first three months of this year, according to newly published federal data.
The Department of Health and Human Services said in a report Tuesday that about 5.2 million people in the United States, including 1 million children, have gained coverage since 2020 as enrollment surged in Medicaid and Affordable Care Act plans. The report is based on data from the National Health Interview Survey. It adds that the 5.2 million figure is a conservative estimate since the uninsured rate rose over the second half of 2020. Comparing uninsured rates from the beginning of this year to the end of 2020 raises the number of people who gained coverage to 7.2 million.
“This progress did not happen by accident,” President Joe Biden said in a statement. “More than 35 million Americans are enrolled in Affordable Care Act related coverage – the highest total on record. This includes over 21 million people who are enrolled in the ACA’s expansion of Medicaid, coverage that is denied to nearly four million Americans who live in states that have refused to expand Medicaid. And, since the beginning of my administration, 5 million more people have gained health insurance coverage – in significant part because of the improvements to the ACA in the American Rescue Plan.”
Biden urged Congress to pass Democrats’ Inflation Reduction Act and its three-year extension of increased tax credits for ACA plan premiums. Without the new law, those higher subsidies would expire this year, leaving millions of people facing higher insurance costs or the risk of being priced out of coverage. An April report from the Urban Institute estimated that 3.1 million people will lose coverage and become uninsured in 2023 if the enhanced tax credits expire.
Progress in peril: The gains in health coverage are also the result of a pandemic provision that prevented states from cutting Medicaid enrollees. Analysts have long warned that, whenever the government ends the official public health emergency for Covid-19, millions of Medicaid enrollees could lose coverage as states redetermine eligibility. A Kaiser Family Foundation report in May estimated that between 5.3 million and 14.2 million people could be disenrolled.
A number to keep in mind: Even with the recent gains in coverage, the new report says that there were still 26.4 million uninsured people as of early this year.