Skip to main content

Advanced Search

Advanced Search

Current Filters

Filter your query

Publication Types



Newsletter Article


Population of Uninsured Americans Fell in 2013, CDC Says

By Rebecca Adams, CQ HealthBeat Associate Editor

June 19, 2014 -- The percentage of Americans without health insurance fell to 14.4 percent in 2013, down from a high of 16 percent in 2010, according to new survey data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Two CDC reports extrapolated results from surveys of 104,203 people. Last year, approximately 44.8 million people did not have coverage at the time the interviews were done. About 55.4 million people, or 17.8 percent of Americans, had been uninsured for at least part of the year, and 33.4 million, or 10.7 percent, had been uninsured for more than a year.

The studies provide a baseline look at the number of people without coverage in 2013, the year before benefits began under the health care law (PL 111-148, PL 111-152). The law allowed people to buy new federally-regulated and subsidized insurance with coverage starting on Jan. 1. States also were able to expand Medicaid to more people with benefits for newly-eligible people starting on Jan. 1.

The age group with the highest number of uninsured in 2013 was people 25 to 34 years old, followed by those 18 to 24 years old. Insurers and federal officials have devoted enormous resources to encouraging younger adults to sign up for coverage in the new plans offered through the marketplaces because those people are presumed to be healthier on average and their premiums could subsidize medical expenses of older, sicker people.

The 2013 results showed significant regional variations in coverage rates. Only about 3.8 percent were uninsured in Washington, D.C., and 5.2 percent were without coverage in Massachusetts. But 24.8 percent were uninsured in Nevada and 24.7 percent were uninsured in Florida.

The data offer a look at coverage from 1997 through 2013. The percentage of people who did not have insurance at the time that they were interviewed was as low as 14.2 percent in 1999, 2001 and 2005. Two additional questions about Medicare and Medicaid coverage were asked starting in 2005.

The percentage of people relying on government-funded health care has increased dramatically since 1997, in large part because of the Children's Health Insurance Program. In 2013, about 23.8 percent of Americans received public coverage, compared to about 13.6 percent in 1997. During that time, the percentage of children with government-financed coverage almost doubled, to 42.2 percent in 2013, up from 21.4 percent in 1997. The share of adults 18 to 64 years old receiving government coverage rose to 16.7 percent in 2013, compared to 10.2 percent 16 years earlier.

The adults were more than three times as likely as children to be uninsured at the time of the interview. There were no significant changes between 2012 and 2013 in the percentage of uninsured people at the time of interview for all of the age groups.

The health care law is expected to continue to expand the number of people receiving government-funded coverage.

Private health coverage has been on the decline for years. About 61 percent of Americans under 65 had private health insurance last year, down from 70.8 percent in 1997.

Publication Details