California’s Uninsured Rate is 7.2 Percent, According to New Census Data

September 13, 2018

By Trish Violett

A new report from the U.S. Census Bureau shows California continued to make progress in reducing the number of uninsured in 2017. Census Bureau figures show that between 2016 and 2017, the number dropped by 47,000, leaving 2.8 million uninsured, or 7.2 percent of the population. The uninsured rate in California dropped 10 percent since 2013 before implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) – the largest reduction in uninsured of any state in the nation.

Over the last year, the Census data indicates an additional 400,000 individuals became uninsured nationally, but the nation’s uninsured rate remained relatively unchanged at 8.7 percent. In states that opted to expand Medicaid under the ACA, the uninsured rate remained relatively constant last year, while states that did not expand Medicaid saw a slight increase in the uninsured (0.4 percent).

The number of uninsured increased in 14 states, while only three states (California, New York, and Louisiana) saw a continued to see reductions in the uninsured.

National details in the Census Bureau Report data include:

  • Most people continue to obtain coverage through private insurers, rather than government coverage (67.2 and 37.7 percent, respectively).
  • Among the nonelderly, those aged 26 to 34 are more likely than any other age group to be uninsured, at a rate of 15.6 percent. Children are the least likely to be uninsured, at a rate of 5.4 percent.
  • Uninsured rates are higher for those with low incomes. For those with incomes under the federal poverty level (FPL) ($12,060 per year for an individual, or $24,600 for a family of four), 17 percent are uninsured, compared with only 4.3 percent uninsured with incomes over 400 percent of FPL ($48,240 per year for an individual, or $98,400 for a family of four).
  • Latinos are more likely to be uninsured than any other race/ethnic group, at a rate of 16.1 percent.
  • Noncitizens have the highest uninsured rate, at 24.1 percent.

View the full Census report for more details.

Several commonly referenced population surveys measure uninsured populations, including the National Health Interview Survey, the U.S. Census Bureau Current Population Survey, and the California Health Interview Survey. For each of these sources, the survey methodologies, timeframes, and analyses vary. As a consequence, estimates of California’s uninsured populations can vary depending on the data source.