Bucking the national trend, New York’s uninsured rate dropped for the eighth consecutive year in 2018, just-released data from the Census Bureau show.
The share of New Yorkers lacking health coverage in last year was 5.4 percent, down from 5.7 percent in 2017. The number of people lacking health coverage dropped by about 72,000, to just over 1 million. Both the rate and the number are roughly half what they were in 2013, the year before the Affordable Care Act went into effect.
The continued dwindling of New York’s uninsured population further weakens the case for the New York Health Act, which seeks to establish a state-run “single payer” plan that would replace all existing forms of coverage, both public and private. Current trends suggest the state could achieve universal coverage through relatively modest expansions of its existing efforts.
Nationwide, the uninsured rate for 2018 was 8.9 percent, up from 8.7 percent the previous year, according to the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey. The margin of error for the 2018 rates, both in New York and nationwide, was plus-or-minus 0.1 percent.
Among the 50 states, New York’s 2018 uninsured rate was the ninth lowest, down from 13th in 2017. It was one of 15 states that saw a decline in its rate, and one of only three in which the decline was statistically significant.
New York’s relatively robust coverage levels are driven largely by its heavy investment in government-funded health coverage. Its $79 billion Medicaid program is one of the broadest in the country, covering roughly one in three residents.
New York is also one of only two states that offer federally subsidized coverage for people whose incomes are just above the Medicaid eligibility level. Enrollment in the so-called Essential Plan, which has premiums of no more than $20 a month, was about 790,000 in 2019, up from 739,000 in 2018 and 665,000 in 2017.
The state by state uninsured rates come from the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, which asks respondents whether they have coverage at the time they are contacted. A second national-only survey, also released Tuesday, asks respondents whether they had coverage at any time in the previous year. By that measure, there was a sharper increase in nationwide uninsured rate, from 7.9 percent in 2017 to 8.5 percent in 2018.