In Illinois last year, 7% of the population — about 875,000 people — lacked health insurance coverage, according to U.S. Census data released Thursday.
This number is up slightly from about 6.8% in 2020, although this year’s margin of error was 0.2.
Nationwide, about 8.6% of people were uninsured last year, according to American Census Community Survey data.
Stephanie Baker, associate director of health care justice in Chicago, said the uninsured rate will likely remain relatively flat in Illinois because of federal protections put in place during the pandemic that were supposed to make it easier for people to hold on to their coverage. Shriver Center for Poverty Law.
During the pandemic, the federal government prevented states that accepted additional Medicaid funding from expelling people from Medicaid, which is state and federally funded health insurance for low-income people. In pre-pandemic times, Medicaid coverage had to be renewed periodically, some people could lose it because they no longer qualify, and others because of administrative issues, such as not submitting papers.
Also, in 2021, President Joe Biden signed a bill into law that increases and expands subsidies that offset the monthly costs of health insurance purchased through the Affordable Care Act exchange at health.gov. These boosted subsidies were recently extended until 2025, with the signing of the Inflation Reduction Act.
“Both of these things together are huge policy choices that this administration has made that allow people to stay on their current health coverage through Medicaid and get affordable health coverage through the (Accessible Care Act) marketplace,” Baker said.
However, the differences still exist.
The percentages of black and Latino people in Illinois without insurance were significantly higher than the percentage of white people without coverage. About 7.9% of Illinois’ black residents and 15.8% of Hispanics or Latinos did not have insurance in 2021, compared to just 4.3% of whites.
“This is a legacy of systemic inequality in health insurance in Illinois and everywhere across the country,” Baker said. She added that some people do not have the option of obtaining insurance through their employers.
In 2021, about 59% of Illinois residents obtained health insurance through their employers and about 35% had insurance through public programs, such as Medicare or Medicaid, according to a new census report.
Sabrina Corlett, research professor in the Center for Health Insurance Reforms at Georgetown University’s McCourt School of Public Policy, noted that although the number of people in Medicaid has grown nationally last year, the percentage of people with private insurance, such as through employers Their work, has decreased. . She said the cost of providing insurance was rising for employers making it difficult for many to provide coverage or for them to pass on some of the increased costs to workers, for example through higher premiums.
In Illinois, the percentage of uninsured people, by income, was highest among those with household incomes between $25,000 and $49,999. About 10.8% of people in that income group in Illinois did not have insurance.
That may be because people in that range may not qualify for Medicaid and don’t realize they are likely to get lower-cost coverage through the Affordable Care Act exchange due to subsidies, Baker said. Or that low-cost exchange coverage could still be too expensive for them, she said.
“I talk to a lot of people who are concerned. Health coverage is an ongoing concern for them,” Becker said. “They’ve done the math and they’re making the choices. They feel like a trade-off between that, food and gas…Sometimes they don’t know about the options available.”