Health Care in America
Health Statistics by State
Center for Disease Control (CDC)
Facts about the Uninsured Population in the US
Henry J Kaiser Family Foundation Report
Summary: Key Facts about the Uninsured Population
In the past, gaps in the public insurance system and lack of access to affordable private coverage left millions without health insurance. Beginning in 2014, the ACA expanded coverage to millions of previously uninsured people through the expansion of Medicaid and the establishment of Health Insurance Marketplaces. Data show substantial gains in public and private insurance coverage and historic decreases in uninsured rates in the first and second years of ACA coverage. Coverage gains were particularly large among low-income people living in states that expanded Medicaid. Still, millions of people—28.5 million in 2015— remain without coverage.
Even under the ACA, many uninsured people cite the high cost of insurance as the main reason they lack coverage. In 2015, 46% of uninsured adults said that they tried to get coverage but did not because it was too expensive. Many people do not have access to coverage through a job, and some people, particularly poor adults in states that did not expand Medicaid, remain ineligible for financial assistance for coverage. Some people who are eligible for financial assistance under the ACA may not know they can get help, and others may still find the cost of coverage prohibitive. In addition, undocumented immigrants are ineligible for Medicaid or Marketplace coverage.
Most uninsured people are in low-income families and have at least one worker in the family. Reflecting the more limited availability of public coverage in some states, adults are more likely to be uninsured than children. People of color are at higher risk of being uninsured than non-Hispanic Whites.
People without insurance coverage have worse access to care than people who are insured. One in five uninsured adults in 2015 (20%) went without needed medical care due to cost. Studies repeatedly demonstrate that the uninsured are less likely than those with insurance to receive preventive care and services for major health conditions and chronic diseases.
The uninsured often face unaffordable medical bills when they do seek care. In 2015, over half of uninsured people (53%) said that they or someone in their household had problems paying medical bills in the past 12 months. These bills can quickly translate into medical debt since most of the uninsured have low or moderate incomes and have little, if any, savings.
How has the number of uninsured changed under the ACA?