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How the U.S. Uninsured Rate Reached a Record Low

August 26, 2022

The nation’s uninsured rate reached a record low during 2022, according to new report from the federal government.

The report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation evaluates the ways additional federal tax credits through the American Rescue Plan and Medicaid expansion affected insurance coverage during the pandemic. The national analysis mirrors reports from Pennsylvania, which saw a record-low uninsured rate of 5.4 percent this year.

“We know that access to quality, affordable health care is key to healthier lives, economic security, and peace of mind,” HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra said in a statement.

Among the key insights from the report:  

  • A record low:  The nation’s uninsured rate dropped to 8 percent during the first quarter of 2022, representing about 26.4 million uninsured people. The previous low was recorded during 2016, when the uninsured rate was about 9 percent.
  • Gains in coverage:  About 5.2 million people gained health coverage from the first quarter of 2020 to the first quarter of 2022. The uninsured rate for adults under 65 dropped from 14.5 percent during late 2020 to 11.8 percent during early 2022. For children, the rate dropped from 6.4 percent to 3.7 percent in that timespan.
  • How it happened:  Enhanced health care subsidies, the expansion of Medicaid eligibility in several states, and continuous Medicaid enrollment played a role to reduce the nation’s uninsured rate, federal officials said.
  • Largest gains:  People with incomes below 100 percent of the federal poverty level (FPL) or between 200 percent and 400 percent of the FPL saw the largest change in uninsured rates from 2020 to 2022.
  • A lookback:  The uninsured population has dropped by about 22 million since 2010. That year, the uninsured rate peaked at 16 percent, representing about 48 million Americans without coverage. 

The recently approved Inflation Reduction Act includes a three-year extension of the federal enhanced subsides for people who need to purchase health coverage through the Affordable Care Act. Before the legislation’s passage, HAP and a coalition of 21 provider groups sent a letter to Pennsylvania’s Congressional delegation urging the extension of this critical support to help Americans access the care they need to live healthy lives.

The report includes data from the National Health Interview Survey and American Community Survey. It is available to review online.