The percentage of Americans, Nebraskans and Iowans who went without health insurance last year declined slightly when compared with those without insurance in 2010, the Census Bureau reported this week.
The bureau’s American Community Survey estimated that nationwide the percentage who were uninsured dropped from 17.7 percent in 2010 to 16.9 percent in 2012. That was a decline of about 1.6 million people to 45.2 million uninsured individuals.
In Iowa, the portion who were uninsured fell a percentage point, from 10.8 to 9.8 percent. The survey estimated that there were 253,425 uninsured Iowans last year, about 25,000 fewer than in 2010.
In Nebraska, the decline was three-tenths of a percentage point, from 13.2 percent to 12.9 percent. The survey estimated that there were 204,500 uninsured Nebraskans last year, about 2,400 fewer than in 2010.
Nuances in the census numbers prevent clear conclusions from being drawn. Nationwide, the decline in uninsured people appears to be balanced by an increase in people on public insurance, such as Medicaid. The Census Bureau noted in a report that many economic indicators, such as median family income, continued to decline from 2010 to 2012.
Jonathan Rodean of the Census Bureau said people struggle to obtain private health insurance when they are underemployed, aren’t getting insurance through work and can’t afford to buy it on their own. Rodean said he would expect the percentage of those getting private insurance to go up next year. The Affordable Care Act requires people to be insured as of Jan. 1. Health insurance marketplaces that match people with policies and calculate tax credits are set to begin operating Oct. 1.
In Nebraska and Iowa, slight increases occurred in the percentages of people on public insurance and private insurance.
Affordable Care Act provisions, such as one that enabled people 25 and younger to stay on their parents’ plans, might have played some role in the larger percentages of people on private insurance in Nebraska and Iowa, said David Drozd, a University of Nebraska at Omaha census expert.
Drozd said 14.2 percent of people under 25 nationwide were uninsured in 2010. That declined to 12.2 percent in 2012, or by about 2 million people. (The survey didn’t ask about those 26 and under in 2010, Drozd said.)
Nationwide, about 2.4 million households completed interviews for the 2012 survey.