clearn.png
Saturday September 21st, 2019 5:27AM

Share of uninsured Americans rises for 1st time in a decade

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

WASHINGTON (AP) — The proportion of Americans without health insurance edged up in 2018 — the first evidence from the government that coverage gains under President Barack Obama's health care law might be eroding under President Donald Trump.

The Census Bureau also said in an annual report Tuesday that household income rose last year at its slowest pace in four years and finally matched its previous peak set in 1999. Median household income increased 0.9% in 2018 to an inflation-adjusted $63,179, from $62,626 in 2017.

The data suggest that the current economic expansion, now the longest on record at more than 10 years, is still struggling to provide widespread benefits to the U.S. population. Solid gains in household incomes over the past four years have returned the median only to where it was two decades ago. And despite strong growth last year in the number of Americans working full time and year-round, the number of people with private health insurance remained flat.

The Census report found that 27.5 million people, 8.5% of the population, lacked health insurance coverage in 2018. That was an increase of 1.9 million uninsured, or 0.5 percentage point.

One bright spot in the report was that the poverty rate fell for a fourth straight year to 11.8%, its lowest point since 2001. The proportion of households led by women that were poor reached a record low.

"While any reduction in poverty or increase in income is a step in the right direction, most families have just barely made up the ground lost over the past decade," said Elise Gould, senior economist at the liberal Economic Policy Institute.

Though income inequality narrowed last year, it remains near record levels reached in 2017. Last year, the richest 5% of the U.S. population captured 23% of household income.

Still, steady hiring and an unemployment rate at 3.7%, near a five-decade low, have helped raise earnings for lower-paid workers employed by restaurants, warehouses, shipping firms and other sectors of the economy. This trend has contributed to a decline in poverty.

On health insurance, more people were covered by Medicare, reflecting the aging of baby boomers. But Medicaid coverage declined. The number of uninsured children also rose. And there were more uninsured adults ages 35-64.

Though the increase in the number of uninsured Americans was modest, it could be a turning point, the first real sign that coverage gains under Obama could be at least partly reversed. This year, the number of uninsured could rise again. That's because a previous Republican-led Congress repealed fines under the Affordable Care Act that had been intended to prod people to sign up for coverage.

The Census report is sure to play into 2020 presidential politics. Health care is the leading issue for Democrats, with proposals including Sen. Bernie Sanders' call for a government-run system to cover everyone and former Vice President Joe Biden's idea for expanding Obama's law and adding a government plan open to virtually anyone.

Democrats are laying the blame on Trump, long accusing his administration of deliberately undermining Obama's health care law. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Tuesday blamed Trump's "cruel health care sabotage" for the rising number of uninsured. In a statement, the California Democrat asserted that Trump's ongoing efforts to erode Obama's law have forced Americans to "live in constant fear of an accident or injury that could spell financial ruin for their families."

Trump spent most of his first year in office trying unsuccessfully to get a Republican Congress to repeal the Affordable Care Act. He is now asking a federal appeals court to overturn it as unconstitutional. The president also slashed the program's sign-up season ad budget and scaled back funding to help people navigate the enrollment process. Trump also removed a subsidy for insurers, thereby triggering a jump in premiums.

Yet ACA enrollment has held fairly steady, with about 20 million people covered by its mix of subsidized private plans and a Medicaid expansion for low-income individuals. The Census report found that Medicaid coverage declined by 0.7 percent from 2017.

The Trump administration has also rolled out some regulatory changes of its own intended to expand coverage. These include "association health plans" for small businesses, short-term plans for individuals and new options for employers to help finance workers' coverage. These changes are fairly recent, though, and it's unclear what impact they might eventually have.

Changes in how Census conducts its income survey have made historical comparisons difficult. Still, household incomes largely declined for the first five years after the recession ended, before taking a sharp turn up in 2015, when they rose 5.1%. Incomes jumped 3.1% the next year but then slowed to 1.8% in 2017 and barely rose last year.

The economic expansion hasn't noticeably narrowed the income gap between white and African-American households. The median income for black households is $41,700; for whites, it's $70,600.

Women earned nearly 82 cents for every dollar earned by men, a figure little changed from the previous year and up just 4 cents from 2007, when the Great Recession began. (That figure compares both men and women with full-time, year-round jobs.)

Many economists consider the poverty rate an antiquated measure that is based mostly on food costs and that doesn't reflect all government benefit programs.

A second calculation, known as the "supplemental poverty measure," includes health care expenses and shows that 13.1% of Americans are in poverty, essentially unchanged from 2017. This measure also includes the effects of government benefit programs like Social Security and food stamps. The EPI estimates that Social Security kept 27.3 million people out of poverty in 2018, while food stamps kept 3.1 million above the supplemental poverty line.

  • Associated Categories: U.S. News, Local/State News, Associated Press (AP), AP National News, AP Online National News, Top U.S. News short headlines, Top General short headlines, AP Online Headlines - Washington, AP Online Congress News, AP Business, AP Business - Economy
© Copyright 2019 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Hurricane survivors struggle to start new life in Bahamas
Thousands of hurricane survivors are filing off boats and planes in the capital of the Bahamas, facing the prospect of starting their lives over but with little idea of how or where to even begin
11:20AM ( 13 minutes ago )
Groundbreaking photographer Robert Frank dies at age 94
Influential 20th-century photographer Robert Frank, author of 1959's 'The Americans', has died at age 94
11:15AM ( 18 minutes ago )
Italy's new government faces second confidence vote
Italian Premier Giuseppe Conte's new government is facing a second confidence vote, needed for his uneasy left-leaning coalition government to remain in power
11:11AM ( 22 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Scientists rethink Alzheimer's, diversifying the drug search
Scientists are exploring novel ways to attack Alzheimer's in the wake of a string of disappointing drug failures
11:00AM ( 33 minutes ago )
N Carolina special election tests Trump, 2020 GOP prospects
Republicans hope an 11th-hour rally with President Donald Trump will boost them to a special election victory in a GOP-friendly House district in North Carolina, where Dan Bishop faces Dan McCready
10:51AM ( 42 minutes ago )
UK opposition rages at Johnson after he suspends Parliament
Opposition politicians are furious at Prime Minister Boris Johnson's five-week suspension of Parliament ahead of the deadline for Brexit, which drew angry and unprecedented protests in the House of Commons
10:43AM ( 50 minutes ago )
AP National News
The Latest: 12 killed in Iraq during Ashoura procession
Iraqi security officials say at least 12 people have been killed when part of a walkway collapsed during Ashoura commemorations in the Shiite holy city of Karbala
9:12AM ( 2 hours ago )
Officials defend plan to end govt control of Fannie, Freddie
Trump administration officials to go before Congress to defend their plan for ending government control of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the mortgage finance companies that nearly collapsed and were bailed out at a cost to taxpayers of $187 billion
8:03AM ( 3 hours ago )
Trump tells rally crowd: Vote for Bishop in special election
President Donald Trump says North Carolina's special House election is the right vehicle to send a message to Democrats
7:37AM ( 3 hours ago )
AP Online National News
Polish border guards board Greenpeace ship, end coal protest
Greenpeace says armed, masked Polish border guards boarded their ship as it was trying to block a delivery of coal, arresting activists and seizing the vessel
10:09AM ( 1 hour ago )
Focus in Georgia shifts to salvaging huge capsized ship
After the rescue at sea of four crewmembers trapped in a capsized cargo ship near a Georgia island, the U.S. Coast Guard says it's now focused on safety removing the vessel while protecting the environment
8:52AM ( 2 hours ago )
The Latest: BMW gives glimpse of future offerings
BMW's marketing chief says giving customers a broad choice among internal combustion, hybrid and battery-powered cars is the right approach to a changing market
8:51AM ( 2 hours ago )
AP Business
Saudi Aramco CEO signals local listing coming 'very soon'
Saudi Aramco's CEO says company ready, local listing on the kingdom's stock exchange to happen 'very soon'
4:51AM ( 6 hours ago )
Global shares mixed as investors look to rate decisions
Global shares are mixed after a day of listless trading on Wall Street as investors awaited signs on global interest rates
4:29AM ( 7 hours ago )
Climate change, trade woes reshape Frankfurt auto show
The headwinds buffeting the global auto industry are making themselves felt at the Frankfurt Motor Show as the industry confronts slowing global trade and auto sales, the U.S
4:14AM ( 7 hours ago )
AP Business - Economy
Hurricane survivors struggle to start new life in Bahamas
Thousands of hurricane survivors are filing off boats and planes in the capital of the Bahamas, facing the prospect of starting their lives over but with little idea of how or where to even begin
11:20AM ( 13 minutes ago )
Groundbreaking photographer Robert Frank dies at age 94
Influential 20th-century photographer Robert Frank, author of 1959's 'The Americans', has died at age 94
11:15AM ( 18 minutes ago )
Italy's new government faces second confidence vote
Italian Premier Giuseppe Conte's new government is facing a second confidence vote, needed for his uneasy left-leaning coalition government to remain in power
11:11AM ( 22 minutes ago )
Iranian female soccer fan dies after setting herself on fire
After learning she could go to prison for trying to enter a soccer stadium, Iranian dies after setting herself on fire
11:09AM ( 24 minutes ago )
With little change, iPhones may get upstaged by streaming
Apple expected to reveal relatively minor changes to iPhone line-up amid sales slump that raises the stakes riding on an upcoming video service
11:06AM ( 27 minutes ago )