Each spring, the Center for Financing, Access, and Cost Trends at the U.S. Health & Human Services’ Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) releases summary file data from its household survey conducted during the previous calendar year.1 These high-level results, derived from a sample of more than 13,000 families and 33,000 individuals, provide researchers with key insights about U.S. health insurance coverage rates and trends over time.2
AHRQ released its latest survey data in April, finding that:
59% of U.S. residents were covered by private health insurance, an increase of 0.8 percentage points from the prior year; 29% of U.S. residents were covered by public coverage (e.g., Medicare, Medicaid, Tricare), an increase of 0.6 percentage points from the prior year; and 12% of U.S. residents remained uninsured, a decrease of 1.5 percentage points from the prior year. The decline was experienced across all surveyed age groups, genders, races/ethnicities and U.S. Census regions.3
Disparities Among Subpopulations
Amidst the declines in national uninsurance rates, prominent disparities remained among key subpopulations (Figure 1). Uninsurance rates remained significantly higher than national averages for younger adults between the ages of 19 and 34 (19-22%), Hispanics/Latinos (23%), and those classifying their marital status as “Separated” (23%) or “Never Married” (20%). Residents of the “South” U.S. Census Region, which includes several populous states that did not expand Medicaid (e.g., Texas, Florida), also had slightly higher uninsurance rates than the rest of the nation (15%).
The Importance of Public Coverage
AHRQ data reinforces how public coverage remained a main—if not primary—source of health insurance coverage for Americans young and old, under the age of 18 (43%) and over the age of 65 (57%). Those classifying themselves as Hispanic/Latino and Black also reported higher rates of public coverage (38% and 41%, respectively), as did widows and widowers (58%).
Figure 1: U.S. Health Insurance Coverage by Type of Coverage and Select Population Characteristics (Jan.-June 2016)
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