Number of Uninsured Fell in 2011, Largely Due to Health Reform and Public Programs

The Census Bureau announced yesterday that, in 2011, the number of uninsured Americans fell for the first time in four years, and the percentage of Americans without health insurance experienced the largest single-year drop since 1999. The Census data suggest that health reform and other federal policies are responsible for a significant part of the gains in coverage.

The largest increases in coverage came among young adults, largely due to a provision of the health reform law (officially the Affordable Care Act, or ACA) allowing adult children up to age 26 to stay on their parents’ private insurance plans.

Forty percent of the decline in the number of uninsured people occurred among individuals aged 19 to 25; some 539,000 fewer 19- to 25-year-olds were uninsured in 2011 than in 2010.  This allowed the overall percentage of non-elderly people with private coverage to remain steady, rather than to decline, for the first time in 10 years.  (Private coverage increased among those under 25 by 1.6 percentage points, while declining among those aged 25-64, by 0.4 percentage points, with the two effects offsetting each other.)

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