Census Bureau releases health insurance statistics for 2019

September 17, 2020

About 21.6 million Americans were uninsured before the onset of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

The U.S. Census Bureau has released statistics looking at the state of health insurance coverage in 2019.

The bureau’s report says that 21.6 million Americans did not have health insurance at any point in 2019. Meanwhile 92 percent of Americans were insured for all or part of that year. Among those insured, the majority, 68 percent, had private insurance and 34.1 percent had public insurance at some point in 2019 with employer-based coverage being the most common subtype.

At the time of their interview with the bureau, 9.2 percent or about 29.6 million people were not covered compared to 8.9 percent and 28.6 million. The percentage of people covered by Medicaid at the time of their interview fell from 20.5 percent in 2018 to 19.8 percent last year, the report says.

Only one state saw a decrease in the percentage of people lacking health insurance between 2018 and 2019, Virginia. Meanwhile, 19 states saw their uninsured percentage rise, the report says.

It is worth noting that these numbers were gathered before the onset of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic in March 2019. Other studies have painted a grim picture of the insurance landscape under the strain of mass job loss.

A July report from The National Center for Coverage Innovation found that 5.4 million adults in the U.S. have lost their health insurance coverage to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic and ensuing economic crash. This is 39 percent higher than any annual increase in the uninsured rate ever recorded. Previously, the highest annual jump was seen between 2008 and 2009 in which 3.9 million nonelderly adults lost their insurance.

According to an August study from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, more than 10 million people are estimated to lose their employer-sponsored health insurance because of a job loss due to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic between April and December of this year. The researchers also estimated that 48 million nonelderly Americans will be part of a household in which someone loses a job because of the pandemic, but of these only about 21 percent of those will lose insurance as a result.

The August study did estimate that about 3.3 million of those will regain their employer-sponsored insurance by being added to another family member’s policy. Another 2.8 million people are expected to enroll in Medicaid and 600,000 are expected to enroll in the individual market, mainly through the Affordable Care Act’s marketplace.

But still, 3.5 million are expected to remain uninsured.