Efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19 depend on the nation’s ability to provide testing and treatment for all Americans, even the 28.5 million who lack health insurance. As the number of coronavirus cases rise, issues surrounding access to healthcare and insurance have reached new levels of importance. Unfortunately, after sharp declines in the number of Americans without health insurance following the passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in 2010, the uninsured rate rose for the first time in 2018.
Between 2010 and 2017, the uninsured rate decreased from 15.5 to 8.7 percent. However, new figures from the U.S. Census Bureau place the national uninsured rate at 8.9 percent for 2018—an increase likely due to a variety of factors, including rising premiums, fewer insurers in the ACA exchange, a shortened ACA enrollment period, and the elimination of the ACA’s individual mandate penalty.
While the national overall uninsured rate stands at 8.9 percent, the uninsured rate in different locations and among different demographic groups varies considerably, making certain populations more vulnerable in times of crisis. Americans aged 26 to 34 are the largest uninsured age group, 15.8 percent of whom do not carry a health insurance plan. Thanks to Medicare, people over age 65 have the lowest uninsured rate. Looking at race and ethnicity, American Indian, Alaskan Natives, Hispanics, and Latinos have the highest uninsured rates, while white and Asian Americans have the lowest uninsured rates.
Among educational attainment levels, individuals with less than a high school degree are the most likely to be without health insurance—21.4 percent are uninsured. Many Americans receive health insurance benefits through their employer, but lower paid, hourly workers are less likely to receive such benefits. Not surprisingly, households in higher income brackets have lower uninsured rates. The uninsured rate for people in households earning less than $49,999 per year is 13.2 percent, more than one and a half times higher than the national rate of 8.9 percent.
At the state level, Texas has the highest uninsured rate in the country at 17.7 percent, about twice as high as the national rate. Other states in the South and Southeast, including Oklahoma, Florida, and Georgia, also have high rates of uninsured residents. At the other end of the spectrum, Massachusetts has the lowest uninsured rate in the country, with just 2.8 percent of its residents lacking health insurance.
To determine the states and cities with the highest and lowest uninsured rates, researchers at Self Financial analyzed the latest data from the U.S. Census Bureau and the CDC. The researchers ranked locations according to the share of residents without health insurance. Researchers also looked at the uninsured rate for individuals below the poverty line, the number of uninsured people, the number of uninsured children, and the percentage of adults reporting good physical health.
The analysis found that 6.5% of Ohio residents are uninsured, compared to the national rate of 8.9%. Here is a summary of the data for Ohio:
- Overall uninsured rate: 6.5%
- Uninsured rate for individuals below the poverty line: 10.4%
- Number of people uninsured: 743,905
- Number of children uninsured: 132,567
- Share of adults reporting good physical health: 81.3%
For reference, here are the statistics for the entire United States:
- Overall uninsured rate: 8.9%
- Uninsured rate for individuals below the poverty line: 15.5%
- Number of people uninsured: 28,565,542
- Number of children uninsured: 4,055,370
- Share of adults reporting good physical health: 82.5%