National Percent of Uninsured Unchanged, 2016 to 2017, but 14 States Had Increases

Yesterday, the U.S. Census Bureau released a report with 2017 data on health insurance status in each state. In 2017, 28.5 million people (or 8.8 percent) did not have health insurance at any point during the year. The uninsured rate and number were not statistically different from 2016.

Children fared somewhat better – in 2017, 5.4 percent of children under 19 were uninsured. This percentage was not statistically different from 2016. Poverty makes a difference in children’s coverage – 7.8 percent of children living in poverty were uninsured, compared to 4.9 percent of children living above the poverty level.

Uninsured status differs by state. Alaska, Oklahoma and Texas had the highest percentages of people without health insurance coverage, as shown in the chart below.


Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2017, p. 20, released Sept. 12, 2018

In some states the uninsured rate change between 2016 and 2017 was statistically significant. In three states – California, Louisiana, and New York—the percentage of people without insurance decreased, but in 14 states the percentage increased. The states where the uninsured rates increased are Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Ohio, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont and West Virginia.

All states showed statistically significant falls in the percentage of uninsured between 2013, before the major changes under the Affordable Care Act were applied, and 2017. Nationally, the rate of uninsured fell 5.8 percent between 2013 and 2017. In 14 states the drop was more than 5 percentage points; all but two of those states – Georgia and Idaho – are states that expanded Medicaid eligibility.