The latest data from the US Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey indicates that 8.1% of Americans 18 and older lacked health insurance coverage, though this figure varied widely across different demographics.
About 6% of non-Hispanic whites were uninsured, according to the data, which was collected from July 27 through Aug. 8. The same was the case for 9.2% of non-Hispanic Black individuals and 17.1% of Hispanics. The estimates, calculated by US News, are based on data from survey respondents whose insurance status was known.
The nonpartisan data center USAFacts reports that a lower percentage of Hispanics in the US were insured in 2020 (81.7%) than in 2015 (84%), while coverage rates among white, Black, and Asian Americans all ticked up in that time. Among noneelderly adults, Hispanics also were the most likely to be uninsured for an extended period of more than a year, with 21.3% fitting that description in 2020 compared with an 8.8% national rate.
Coverage rates vary broadly across income levels as well. According to the Household Pulse Survey – an “experimental” effort to capture the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Americans’ lives – 13% of adults with an annual income under $50,000 were uninsured. Meanwhile, just 8% of those with annual incomes from $50,000 to under $75,000 were uninsured, as were only 3.2% of those with an income of $75,000 or more.
According to 2019 data from the National Health Interview Survey, the financial cost of health coverage is the most common factor leading to US adults being uninsured. For a staggering 73.7% of uninsured adults ages 18 to 64, affordability was a reason for not having coverage, compared with 25.3% who reportedly were ineligible and 21.3% who did not want or need coverage.
At the same time, for many Americans – particularly the uninsured – the cost of care itself can keep them from receiving needed treatment. In 2020, 7.5% of US adults – including 26.1% of uninsured adults under age 65 – had delayed medical care for cost reasons in the past 12 months, and 8.3% – 30.9% of the uninsured under 65 – did not take medication as prescribed to save money, per NHIS data.
This type of issue is generally affected Black and Hispanic individuals, as well as Indigenous groups, at higher rates than whites and Asians. Among Hispanic adults, 9.5% did not get needed medical care due to cost, while 10.8% delayed medical care and 12.4% did not take medication as prescribed to save money.
These disparities may also have to do with the fact that health insurance is often tied to employment. Unemployment rates are typically higher for the Black and Hispanic communities in the US than for whites, and according to 2020 NHIS data12.6% of employed Americans 18 to 64 years old were uninsured at the time of a survey interview, but 17.1% of those not employed were not covered.