The number of uninsured people in Indiana remained unchanged from 2016 to 2017, while there was a slight increase across the nation, according to the latest American Community Survey data released this week by the United States Census.
Every year the Census Bureau conducts a survey on health insurance coverage, including data on the number of people who are insured, where they live and what type of coverage they receive.
“Health insurance is an important measure of our nation’s overall wellbeing,” said Sharon Stern, assistant division chief for Employment Characteristics, in a video released with the survey discussing the data.
The data show that 8.8 percent, or about 28.5 million people in the United States, did not have health insurance coverage for the entire calendar year of 2017, an increase from 27.3 million uninsured in 2016.
“Policy makers use this data to make data-driven decisions,” Stern said.
Two of Indiana’s Senate candidates, incumbent Democrat Joe Donnelly and Republican Mike Braun, have both made health care an issue in their hotly-contested race.
Donnelly has attacked Braun for supporting a lawsuit by a group of Republican attorneys general that could repeal protections against insurance companies dropping people with pre-existing conditions.
Braun has supported the efforts of the Trump administration to repeal the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.
“Joe Donnelly is focused on ensuring that every Hoosier – including those with pre-existing conditions – has access to quality, affordable health care,” said Kate Oehl, press secretary for Donnelly’s campaign, in a written statement.
Braun’s campaign did not respond to a request for comment by deadline.
Twenty-five states, including the four bordering Indiana, and the District of Columbia have an uninsured rate of less than 8 percent. Indiana has an uninsured rate between 8 and 9.9 percent but the state’s uninsured rate was unchanged from the 2016 survey.
Texas and Oklahoma have the highest uninsured rates in the nation at 14 percent or higher.
The uninsured tend to be 19-to-64 year old men who have less than a high school education and/or have lower income, according to the census data.
The two largest groups in that age range are 26-to-34 years old and 35-to-44 years old. About one in four uninsured people were 26 to 34 years old, and about one in five people ages 34 to 44 and more than half, or 54.6 percent, of the uninsured population is male.
While 8.8 percent of the country went uninsured in 2017, of the 91.2 percent of the country that was insured, 67.2 percent had private plans — employment-based or direct-purchase — and 37.7 percent received health insurance from a government plan — including Medicare, Medicaid or any military health care plan.
Although there was not a significant spike in the uninsured rate from 2016 to 2017, the rate decreased in three states and increased in 14 states.
The bureau said the changes in the rate of health insurance coverage can be affected by economic trends, demographic shifts and policy changes.
James Polston is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.