Aug 2, 2022 - Health

U.S. uninsured rate hits record low as subsidy extension looms

Picture of a sign that says "health care voter"
Photo: Samuel Corum/Getty Images

The national uninsured rate dropped to a record low of 8% in the first quarter of 2022, according to a new analysis from the Department of Health and Human Services out Tuesday.

Yes, but: The number could increase if Congress fails to extend enhanced Affordable Care Act subsidies, which are set to expire at the end of this year.

  • An estimated 3.1 million people would become uninsured when the subsidies expire beginning next year, Axios' Caitlin Owens reported in April.

Catch up fast: The 2021 American Rescue Plan temporarily expanded who was eligible for more generous ACA subsidies, resulting in millions of Americans enrolling in health insurance for the first time.

  • Democrats have attempted to extend the subsidies, but these efforts have failed in the Senate.

By the numbers: Approximately 5.2 million people — including 4.1 million adults and 1 million children — have gained coverage since 2020, HHS found.

  • Uninsured rates among adults aged 18-64 dropped from 14.5% in late 2020 to 11.8% in early 2022. In children ages 17 years old and younger, the number fell from 6.4% to 3.7%.
  • The largest drop was seen among people living in poverty and those with incomes between 200% and 400% of the federal poverty level.

What they're saying: "Every American has the right to the peace of mind that comes with access to affordable, quality health care," President Biden said in a statement. "No one should worry about whether they can pay for their doctor or choose between paying rent and filing a prescription. Today, we are closer than ever to making that principle a reality."

  • Biden urged Congress to pass the Inflation Reduction Act, which he said would "lock in an average $800 a year savings in health insurance premiums for 13 million Americans and prevent 3 million Americans from becoming uninsured."
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