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More Individuals Without Health Insurance Likely Means More Work For Collection Agencies

Fewer people had health insurance coverage in 2018 than did in 2017, according to data released yesterday by the Census Bureau, likely because more people are working and are no longer qualifying for Medicaid coverage. The data for 2019 is also looking like more individuals are going without health insurance. The increase from 2017 to 2018 is the first time the uninsured rate has gone up since the enactment of the Affordable Care Act, which became law in 2010.

About 27.5 million people did not have any healthcare coverage last year, up from 25.6 million a year earlier, according to the data. The 0.5% increase in the rate of uninsured individuals is slightly less than the 0.7% decrease in the number of individuals who had Medicaid coverage in 2017 but did not in 2018.

Larry Levitt, the executive vice president for health policy for the Kaiser Family Foundation, said the increase in the number of individuals without health insurance is likely due to more individuals getting jobs that do not offer health insurance.

“There are fewer people in poverty and more people working, but the jobs low-income people are getting often don’t come with health benefits,” Levitt said in a tweet. “So, job-based health insurance isn’t growing, even in an economy with low unemployment.”

Breaking down insurance coverage by age, the only age groups where the percentage of uninsured individuals decreased was those between the ages of 26 and 34, and that figure dropped to 13.9%, from 14%, and those over the age of 65, and that figure dropped to 0.9%, from 1%. Every other age group, including those between the ages of 0 and 18, saw an increase in the number of individuals without health insurance.

Even economic status had little impact on the uninsured rate, according to the data. Looking at the income of individuals, every category — from those making below 100% of the poverty level — $25,750 for a family of four — to those making 400% of that figure — had more invidious without insurance in 2018 than in 2017.

For the credit and collection industry, this likely means that more individuals are going to have medical bills that are not covered by insurance and could go into collections.

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