New data released by the U.S. Census Bureau estimates that about 18 percent of San Antonio residents did not have health insurance in 2016 – a slight decline from 2015 estimates, which were just above 19 percent.

The decline in San Antonio’s uninsured population mirrors the national average; the percentage of people without health insurance for the entire 2016 calendar year was 8.8 percent, down from 9.1 percent in 2015. The number of people without health insurance declined to 28.1 million from 29 million, according to the Census Bureau data contained in the American Community Survey. The survey data released this week reports national estimates from 2012 to 2016.

The uninsured rate has steadily drifted downward since the Affordable Care Act (ACA) exchanges kicked in at the start of 2014, as nearly all Americans were required to have some health insurance or face a possible tax penalty. The uninsured rate peaked at 18 percent in 2013, just before health insurance exchanges launched.

Insurance coverage on the ACA marketplace and allowing adults under the age of 26 to stay on their parents’ health plans, have been credited with helping to reduce the rates of uninsured throughout the U.S.

The census data highlighted areas of San Antonio where there were large numbers of uninsured people at different income levels.

In the Northeast side zip code 78233, nearly 4 percent of residents, or 1,904 people, making over $100,000 annually did not have health insurance in 2016. On the far Westside, in 78250, 1,871 residents in that income bracket were uninsured in 2016.

Of residents making less than $25,000 annually, zip code 78202, which includes the Dignowity and Jefferson Heights neighborhoods, 1,497 people were uninsured – more than 12 percent of that group.

While federal officials cut the duration of this year’s open enrollment period to 45 days, it has been extended to Dec. 31 in Texas due to Hurricane Harvey. The extension allows for certified application counselors to assist an uninsured population that has been estimated to have been slowly increasing since the beginning of the fiscal year.

Gallup poll from October found that the rate of uninsured adults in the U.S. has risen to 12.3 percent in the third quarter of 2017, which is up from a record low of 10.9 percent at the end of 2016. The results are based on more than 45,000 interviews with U.S. adults aged 18 and older from July 1 to Sept. 30, conducted as part of the Gallup-Sharecare Well-Being Index. Gallup and Sharecare have asked a random sample of at least 500 U.S. adults each day since January 2008 whether they have health insurance.

Of the 259,199 uninsured people in San Antonio in 2016, 227,615 were uninsured adults age 18 and older. Less than 2 percent of people age 65 and older did not have health insurance, accounting for 2,656 people.

According to census data for San Antonio, the number of uninsured decreased by several hundred in every each age-specific population category from 2015 to 2016; uninsured rates for ages 55 and older experienced less change.

Of the total uninsured population in San Antonio, there were more women who were uninsured than men; and of the total population of uninsured, Hispanics outnumbered whites by nearly five times the total amount, with 198,208 Hispanic residents lacking health insurance.

Roseanna Garza

Roseanna Garza

Roseanna Garza reports on health and bioscience for the San Antonio Report.