Uninsured Rate for Low-Income Children Jumps

Loss of public plan coverage hit children hard in 2016

The percentage of Americans under 65 who had private health coverage fell in 2016, and the percentage of low-income children who had no health coverage at all rose sharply.

The private coverage rate for people under 65 fell to 65%, from 65.6% in 2015. The percentage had been rising every year since 2014, when the Affordable Care Act public exchange system came to life and ACA restrictions on medical underwriting took effect.

(Related: More Young Adults Got Privately Covered in Third Quarter)

The drop in private health insurance enrollment hit children in families with income under the federal poverty level especially hard: The uninsured rate for those children climbed to 6.5%, from 4.4% the year before.

The uninsured rate for low-income children rose because the percentage who had private coverage fell to 7.4%, from 9.1%.

Private coverage rates also fell sharply for low-income adults and for higher-income children. For people in those groups, higher enrollment in Medicaid, Children's Health Insurance Program plans and other government plans offset most or all of the drop in private coverage.

One group that benefited from growth in public plan enrollment was adults earnings 100% to 200% of the federal poverty level. The share with private insurance sank to 40.3%, from 43.8%, but the percentage with public plan coverage rose to 38.5%, from 34.2%. That reduced their uninsured rate to 23.2%, from 24.1%.

Researchers at the National Center for Health Statistics, a government agency, have published the 2016 coverage data in a National Health Interview Survey report.

--- Read ACA Medicaid Funding Rules Stink, Witness Says on ThinkAdvisor.

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