By the Numbers: Demographic Trends in the Uninsured Landscape

By Laura E. Timmerman

Who is still uninsured? And how have uninsured rates changed by demographic groups? Enroll America’s 2015 uninsured model gives us an enormous insights into those big questions. In the past few weeks, we’ve shared data on uninsured rates across geographies through our state profiles and national uninsured maps. This week, more than halfway through the third open enrollment period, we’ll share with you another perspective — nationwide demographic changes in the uninsured rate.

1. The gender gap is evening out.

In 2013, men were disproportionally uninsured in the United States (17.7 percent of men and 15.3 percent of women were uninsured). Over the past couple of years, men have been catching up (see Figure 1 below for the national uninsured rate amongst men and women, 2013 to 2015). The difference in uninsured rate between genders in 2015 is the smallest it has been since 2013, at just 1.4 percentage points. Historically women have sought coverage at higher rates, and it’s hopeful news that the uninsured landscape is now heading toward gender balance.

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2. Despite dramatic coverage gains, communities of color are still more likely to be uninsured.

Every year that we’ve done our uninsured model, African Americans and Latinos in the U.S. have had higher uninsured rates than Asian Americans and whites (see Figure 2). Although all four of these race/ethnicity groups experienced significant progress between 2013 and 2015, a Latino person in 2015 is still about 1.75 times more likely than a white person to lack health insurance. This is progress though — the ratio was nearly 1.9 in 2013.

Between 2014 and 2015, the uninsured rate for Latinos was unchanged, while the rates for whites, African Americans, and Asian Americans declined modestly.

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3. In particular, more outreach and education are still needed among young people.

Across the board, all age groups have made significant gains in coverage between 2013 and 2015. However, young adults aged 18-34 have had the highest uninsured rates across all age groups across all years (see Figure 3). Indeed between 2014 and 2015, this age group actually seems to have had a slight uptick in its uninsured rate, which highlights the ongoing need for specific attention and outreach to this group.

Looking at the older age groups (35-44, 45-54, and 55-64), we see another success story in reducing disparities. In 2013, there were sizeable differences in uninsured rates across these age groups, while in 2015 the rates are quite similar. After two open enrollment periods, Americans aged 35-64 have about the same likelihood of being enrolled.

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Although the data tell a complex story about who is still uninsured, it’s encouraging to see that uninsured rates have decreased for all major demographic groups since 2013. Additional enrollment outreach efforts — targeted to key demographic groups — will likely be needed to continue these successes.

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