7% of Illinois residents lack medical health insurance, census data show

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In Illinois last yr, 7% of residents — about 875,000 people — lacked medical health insurance coverage, based on U.S. Census data released Thursday.

That number was up barely from about 6.8% in 2020, though the margin of error this yr was 0.2.

Nationally, about 8.6% of individuals were uninsured last yr, based on data from the Census’ American Community Survey.

It’s possible Illinois’ uninsured rate held relatively regular due to federal protections put in place throughout the pandemic that were meant to make it easier for people to carry on to their coverage, said Stephani Becker, associate director of health care justice on the Chicago-based Shriver Center on Poverty Law.

Throughout the pandemic, the federal government has prohibited states that accepted additional Medicaid funding from kicking people off of Medicaid, which is state and federally funded medical health insurance for low-income people. In pre-pandemic times, Medicaid coverage needed to be renewed periodically, and a few people would lose it because they not qualified, and others due to administrative issues, reminiscent of not sending in paperwork.

Also, in 2021, President Joe Biden signed a bill into law that increased and expanded subsidies that offset the monthly costs of medical health insurance purchased through the Inexpensive Care Act exchange at healthcare.gov. Those enhanced subsidies were recently prolonged through 2025, with the signing of the Inflation Reduction Act.

“Each of those things together are huge policy decisions that this administration has taken that allow people to remain on their current health coverage through Medicaid and get more cost-effective health coverage through the (Inexpensive Care Act) marketplace,” Becker said.

Disparities, nevertheless, remain.

The odds of Black and Latino people in Illinois without insurance were much higher than the proportion of white people lacking coverage. About 7.9% of Black Illinois residents and 15.8% of Hispanic or Latino people didn’t have insurance in 2021, compared with only 4.3% of white people.

“That’s a legacy of systemic inequalities in medical health insurance in Illinois and in every single place across the country,” Becker said. Also, some people don’t have the choice of getting insurance through their employers, she said.

In 2021, about 59% of Illinois residents got medical health insurance through their employers and about 35% got insurance through public programs, reminiscent of Medicare or Medicaid, based on the brand new Census report.

Though the number of individuals on Medicaid grew nationally last yr, the proportion of individuals with private insurance, reminiscent of through their employers, dropped, noted Sabrina Corlette, a research professor on the Center on Health Insurance Reforms at Georgetown University’s McCourt School of Public Policy. She said the fee of offering insurance has been rising for employers making it difficult for a lot of to offer coverage or leading them to shift a number of the growing costs onto employees, reminiscent of through higher premiums.

In Illinois, the proportion of individuals uninsured, by income, was highest amongst those that had household incomes of $25,000 to $49,999. About 10.8% of individuals in that income group in Illinois were uninsured.

That could be because people in that range may not qualify for Medicaid and don’t realize they’ll likely get lower-cost coverage through the Inexpensive Care Act exchange due to subsidies, Becker said. Or, it’s possible even low-cost exchange coverage remains to be too expensive for them, she said.

“I consult with numerous individuals who worry. Health coverage is a continuous worry for them,” Becker said. “They’ve done the maths and are making decisions. They feel prefer it’s a trade-off between that, food and gas … Sometimes they don’t know concerning the options on the market.”

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