THURSDAY, June 19, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Two new U.S.
government reports provide a statistical snapshot of health and
health insurance coverage in 2013, before new coverage options took
effect under the Affordable Care Act.
On a positive note, fewer Americans were uninsured in 2013 than
in 2010 -- 14.4 percent versus 16 percent, respectively.
But sharp coverage gaps remained depending on factors like age,
race or ethnicity and where people live.
The reports, released Thursday by the U.S. National Center for
Health Statistics (NCHS), draw on data from interviews with more
than 104,000 families as part of the 2013 National Health Interview
Survey. Estimates for 2013 were compared with prior periods going
back as far as 1997.
"I think what this gives us is a great baseline," said Shana Lavarreda, director of health insurance studies at the University of California, Los Angeles' Center for Health Policy Research. She was not involved with the studies.
Researchers will use the data to evaluate changes between 2013
and 2014, when millions of previously uninsured Americans will have
gained coverage through the Affordable Care Act, also known as
More than 8 million people signed up for private health plans
for 2014 under the Affordable Care Act, the U.S. Department of
Health and Human Services (HHS) reported in May.
Another 4.8 million enrolled in Medicaid and the Children's
Health Insurance Program. And an estimated 5 million people
selected health plans sold outside of the new state and federal
marketplaces, HHS said.
Because new marketplace options and expanded state Medicaid
coverage took effect this year, the increase in coverage was not
reflected in the 2013 data.
In 2013, 20.4 percent of people aged 18 to 64 -- the
health-reform law's target population -- were uninsured for at
least part of the year. They were twice as likely to experience a
lack of coverage as children.
Hispanic people were three times as likely, and blacks were more
than 1.5 times as likely, to be uninsured as whites, researchers
Rates of coverage varied by state as well.
"For example, 3.8 percent and 5.2 percent were uninsured in the District of Columbia and Massachusetts, respectively, whereas 24.8 percent were uninsured in Nevada and 24.7 percent were uninsured in Florida," NCHS statisticians wrote.
In states that are not expanding Medicaid coverage, "state
differences in uninsurance may well become even greater," said
Katherine Hempstead, team director and senior program officer at
the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation in Princeton, N.J.
A majority of adults -- 64.2 percent -- had private health
insurance coverage in 2013.
Of those who get health coverage on the job, nearly one-third
(32 percent) were enrolled in a high-deductible health plan,
compared with 17 percent in 2008.
"This is a near doubling in a period of less than 10 years," Hempstead noted. "This is clearly becoming the new norm, and the marketplace plans will only increase the rapidity of this trend," she added.
Among other findings in the reports:
Will the Affordable Care Act address these disparities?
"What public health researchers are hoping to see . . . is how this humongous growth in health insurance translated not only to access to care, but better health outcomes," Lavarreda said.
Learn about health insurance coverage options under the
Affordable Care Act at
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