WASHINGTON - The proportion of Americans without health insurance edged up in 2018 - the first increase in nearly a decade after coverage had significantly increased under President Barack Obama's health care law.
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 rose 0.9% in 2018 to an inflation-adjusted $63,179, from $62,626 in 2017.
The data suggest that the economic expansion, now the longest on record at more than 10 years, is still struggling to provide widespread benefits to the U.S. population. Despite solid growth in the number of Americans working full time, year-round, the number of people with private health insurance was flat.
One bright spot in the report was that the poverty rate fell for the fourth straight year to 11.8%, its lowest point since 2001. The proportion of households headed by women that were poor fell to 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.
An estimated 27.5 million people, 8.5% of the population, went without health insurance in 2018. That was an increase of 1.9 million uninsured people, or 0.5 percentage point.
More people were covered by Medicare, reflecting the aging of the baby boomers. But Medicaid coverage declined. The number of uninsured children also rose, and there were more uninsured adults ages 35-64.