Uninsured Rate: The percentage of individuals who are not covered under health insurance or a health coverage plan
American Community Survey (ACS), 5-year estimates, Table B27001
2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021
*Note: Each year of available data shown above is a 5-year estimate, or an average of data collected over a five year period. 5-year estimates are used to increase the reliability of the data at small geographies like neighborhoods and census tracts. The years shown on the NDSC map represent the final year of the five year average (e.g. “2010” represents 2006-2010 data, “2011” represents 2007-2011 data, and so on). For the most impactful comparison of data over time, the ACS recommends comparing non-overlapping years (e.g. 2010-14 with 2015-19)
Why are these variables important to measure?
A person is considered to be insured when he or she is covered under any public or private health insurance or health coverage plan. The plan must provide “comprehensive health coverage,” meaning that it includes the ten essential health benefits covered by the Affordable Care Act, including prescription drugs, emergency services, and mental health services. Dental, vision, life and disability insurance are not considered a part of comprehensive health coverage.
Although the number of people without health insurance has been steadily decreasing since the passage of the Affordable Care Act, over 20 million people in the United States are still without health insurance. According to a 2012 study by Families USA, people without health insurance pay more for their medical care than the insured, and 60% of uninsured adults are in medical debt. They are also five times less likely to have a usual source of medical care outside of the emergency room than insured people. Additionally, the uninsured are more likely to go without screenings or preventative care and are 25% more likely to die prematurely than adults with health insurance.
Lack of insurance can also have spillover effects in their communities. According to the National Academies of Sciences Engineering and Medicine, hospitals in communities with large numbers of uninsured people often have less inpatient care capacity and offer fewer services in trauma and burn care. There is also a higher risk of the spread of communicable diseases in communities where many people cannot afford to see a doctor for preventative care.
“American Community Survey and Puerto Rico Community Survey 2017 Subject Definitions.” United States Census Bureau: American Community Survey, 2017. Link
Families USA. “Dying for Coverage: The Deadly Consequences of Being Uninsured.” (2012). https://familiesusa.org/resources/dying-for-coverage-the-deadly-consequences-of-being-uninsured/
Institute of Medicine. “A Shared Destiny: Effects of Uninsurance on Individuals, Families and Communities.” (2003). https://www.nap.edu/read/10602/chapter/1
“Key Facts about the Uninsured Population.” Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, 29 November 2017. Link
“What Marketplace health insurance plans cover.” U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid, 2018. Link
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