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September 27, 2023
David Burda
Policy System Dynamics

Do We Still Care About the Uninsured?

Were you better off in 2022 than you were in 2017? I was for a lot of reasons. One thing that didn’t change over those five years, though, was my health insurance status. I had health insurance in 2017, and I had health insurance in 2022. And I still have health insurance today.

So do most Americans. In fact, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s latest report on health insurance coverage in the U.S., 92.1% of us had some form of health insurance in 2022. That’s about 304 million people, per the report.

Conversely, 7.9% of us were uninsured last year. That’s a little more than 25.9 million people. That’s down from 8.3% and about 27.2 million people in 2021.

Some may see the decrease in both the percentage and number of uninsured as good news. And it is. Any time the uninsured figures go down, that’s good.

The bad news is, we’re back where we were in 2017. That’s also when 7.9% of us, or about 25.6 million people, were uninsured. Five years of trying to get more people insured and nothing to show for it.

The number of people with any type of private health insurance (employer-based or direct-purchase) crept up to 216.5 million last year from 216.4 million in 2021. The number of people with any type of public health insurance (Medicare, Medicaid, etc.) rose to 119.1 million last year from 117.1 million in 2021. Both headed in the right direction but too slow to push the uninsured rate significantly down.

If we want to get serious about achieving universal coverage, let’s get serious about it. If we don’t want to get serious about it because most of us already have health insurance, the only useful purpose of the Census Bureau’s annual reports on health insurance is to show us how little we really care.

Thanks for reading.

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About the Author

David Burda

David Burda began covering healthcare in 1983 and hasn’t stopped since. Dave writes this monthly column “Burda on Healthcare,” contributes weekly blog posts, manages our weekly newsletter 4sight Friday, and hosts our weekly Roundup podcast. Dave believes that healthcare is a business like any other business, and customers — patients — are king. If you do what’s right for patients, good business results will follow.

Dave’s personnel experiences with the healthcare system both as a patient and family caregiver have shaped his point of view. It’s also been shaped by covering the industry for 40 years as a reporter and editor. He worked at Modern Healthcare for 25 years, the last 11 as editor.

Prior to Modern Healthcare, he did stints at the American Medical Record Association (now AHIMA) and the American Hospital Association. After Modern Healthcare, he wrote a monthly column for Twin Cities Business explaining healthcare trends to a business audience, and he developed and executed content marketing plans for leading healthcare corporations as the editorial director for healthcare strategies at MSP Communications.

When he’s not reading and writing about healthcare, Dave spends his time riding the trails of DuPage County, IL, on his bike, tending his vegetable garden and daydreaming about being a lobster fisherman in Maine. He lives in Wheaton, IL, with his lovely wife of 40 years and his three children, none of whom want to be journalists or lobster fishermen.

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