Uninsured rate rises for first time since 2009

Marco Green
Сентября 11, 2019

The share of Americans without health insurance rose for the first time in a decade last year and US household income barely rose, according to a government report on Tuesday that laid bare issues that could become central to the USA presidential election next year.

About 27.5 million residents, or 8.5% of people, did not have health insurance in 2018, an nearly 2 million increase from the year before when 7.9% of people lacked coverage, the Census bureau said.

Democrats are laying the blame on Trump, long accusing his administration of deliberately undermining Obama's health care law. Democrats point to how major tax changes, adopted by a Republican Congress at the end of 2017, eliminated the financial penalty for those who violate the ACA's requirement that most Americans carry health insurance - removing one motivation to stay insured. It is the first year-to-year increase in the percentage of uninsured people since 2008-2009, Census said. But that did not amount to a statistically significant change in the uninsured rate.

The Oklahoma Policy Institute estimates Medicaid expansion, which would raise the income threshold for eligibility for the state-federal health insurance program, would reduce the number of uninsured in the state by 200,000.

Tuesday's data make clear that the contraction of insurance has been broad.

An estimated 548,000 Oklahomans lacked health insurance in 2018, up from an estimated 545,000 in 2017, the Census Bureau reported. They show that 3.3% of people past year got their coverage through such a marketplace. The administration has also sought to expand the sale of "short-term insurance" plans, which are not ACA-compliant.

While Medicaid enrollment fell, the proportion of Americans covered through employer-based insurance did not change significantly.

The official USA poverty rate fell to 11.8 percent in 2018, the lowest since 11.7 percent in 2001 and a sign that the devastation from the Great Recession had faded.

Still, steady hiring and an unemployment rate at 3.7%, near a five-decade low, have helped raise earnings for lower-paid workers employed by restaurants, warehouses, shipping firms and other sectors of the economy.

"Employment is the best way out of poverty", said Tomas Philipson, acting head of Trump's Council of Economic Advisers.

The poverty rate for adults who work full-time all year round is 2.3%, much lower than the poverty rate for people who do not work, which is almost 30%.

The extra pay from having another person in the home employed again or working additional hours has been the largest factor contributing to rising income and falling poverty rates. Past year alone, more than 2 million people found full-time jobs, the Census report said.

The pace of job growth, however, has slowed recently.

The data suggest that two decades of economic expansion has failed to translate into significant gains for the typical family, as median household income has increased just 2.7% since 1999.

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