Uninsured rate drops more slowly

by Bill Hammond |  | NY Torch

A historic decline in the uninsured population continued in 2016, both nationwide and in New York, albeit at a slower rate that signals a plateauing trend, according to data released Tuesday by the Census Bureau.

The share of the U.S. population lacking health coverage dipped to 28.1 million, or 8.8 percent, a drop of just 0.3 percentage points. That compares to 1.3-point drop in 2015, and 2.9-point drop in 2014 – the first year that the Affordable Care Act was fully in effect.

In New York, the uninsured population declined to 1.2 million, or 6.1 percent – down 1 point from the year before. New York’s rate dropped 1.6 points in 2015 and 3 points in 2014.

Overall, the Census figures show that 20.7 million Americans, including 992,000 New Yorkers, gained coverage since 2013.

Source: U.S. Census Bureau (Percentages do not add to 100 because individuals can fall in more than one category.)

While New York’s uninsurance rate is at an all-time low, its progress under the ACA has underperformed the national norm in some respects.

In 2013, it had the 14th lowest uninsurance rate among the 50 states and the District of Columbia. As of 2016, it had slid to 19th – bypassed by states such as Kentucky, Washington, West Virginia and Rhode Island.

New York’s private-sector insurance market expanded with the help of the ACA’s heavy tax subsidies from 2013 to 2016, but at less than half the national rate – 3 percent versus 6.7 percent.

Meanwhile, its expansive Medicaid program and other public insurance options saw more robust enrollment growth of 12 percent, compared to a national rate of 14.8 percent.

As a result, government-sponsored plans accounted for 83 percent of the insurance gains in New York, compared to 58 percent nationwide.