AHRQ Studies Find Large Declines in Number of Uninsured Adults

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Jessica Vistnes, Ph.D.
Senior Economist, Center for Financing, Access and Cost Trends
Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: The Medical Expenditure Panel Survey – Household Component (MEPS-HC), sponsored by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), is one of the few sources of nationally representative data that can assess changes in the percentage of Americans gaining and losing health insurance coverage between 2013 and 2014, the first year that many provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) were implemented. The MEPS-HC is also one of the few data sources that can be used to assess changes in the rates at which Americans are uninsured for a full calendar year. Three new AHRQ studies use data from the MEPS-HC and show large declines from 2013 to 2014 in the percentage of non-elderly adults who were uninsured throughout the calendar year. They also show large increases in the likelihood of gaining health care coverage from 2013-2014 compared to 2012-2013 across demographic groups defined by age, race/ethnicity and education.

MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?

Response: Here are some of the highlights from the three reports:

The rate of uninsured Americans declined significantly between 2013 and 2014. The percentage of adults ages 18 to 64 who were uninsured for the entire calendar year fell from 18.8 percent (35.6 million) in 2013 to 14.4 percent (27.4 million) in 2014.

(Source: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Medical Expenditure Panel Survey Statistical Brief #488: The Uninsured in America: Estimates of the Percentage of Non-Elderly Adults Uninsured Throughout Each Calendar Year, by Selected Population Subgroups and State Medicaid Expansion Status: 2013 and 2014.
)https://meps.ahrq.gov/data_files/publications/st488/stat488.pdf

The likelihood of gaining health care coverage increased between the 2012-2013 and 2013- 2014 periods for non-elderly adults in demographic groups based on age, race/ethnicity and education level.

(Source: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Medical Expenditure Panel Survey Statistical Brief #489, Transitions in Health Insurance Coverage for Non-Elderly Adults in the U.S. Civilian Noninstitutionalized Population: 2013-2014 and Selected Preceding Two-Year Periods.)
https://meps.ahrq.gov/data_files/publications/st489/stat489.pdf

In 2014, in States that expanded Medicaid via the Affordable Care Act, the rate of uninsured adults ages 18-64 in poor or fair health was about the same as those in good to excellent health. However, in 2013 before the ACA took effect, the rate of uninsured adults in poor or fair health was comparatively larger.

(Source: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Medical Expenditure Panel Survey Statistical Brief #490: Uninsurance and Insurance Transitions Before and After 2014: Estimates for U.S., Non-Elderly Adults by Health Status, Presence of Chronic Conditions and State Medicaid Expansion Status.)
https://meps.ahrq.gov/data_files/publications/st490/stat490.pdf

MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Response: The MEPS-HC is a valuable resource for analyzing changes in health insurance status, access to medical care and medical care use for individuals over a two-year time period. The findings discussed above are a first look at changes in insurance status using newly available data. Stay tuned for additional findings from the MEPS-HC.

MedicalResearch.com: Thank you for your contribution to the MedicalResearch.com community.

Citations:

1. The Uninsured in America: Estimates of the Percentage of Non-Elderly Adults Uninsured throughout Each Calendar Year, by Selected Population Subgroups and State Medicaid Expansion Status: 2013 and 2014
2. Transitions in Health Insurance Coverage for Non-Elderly Adults in the U.S. Civilian Noninstitutionalized Population: 2013-2014 and Selected Preceding Two-Year Periods
3. Uninsurance and Insurance Transitions Before and After 2014: Estimates for U.S., Non-Elderly Adults by Health Status, Presence of Chronic Conditions and State Medicaid Expansion Status

Note: Content is Not intended as medical advice. Please consult your health care provider regarding your specific medical condition and questions.

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