As the 2020 presidential elections are nearing, a government report laid bare the problem of health insurance. Issued on Tuesday, the report revealed that more Americans went without health insurance in 2018, for the first time in a decade. Whereas, the household income hardly shifted.
The annual release of survey data, detailing the closely watched healthcare and economic trends of last year, brought the issue to light, which is expected to be central between the Republicans and Democrats in the upcoming elections.
The Census Bureau in the report highlighted a mixed picture of how households managed during President Donald Trump’s second year in office, a time of substantial economic growth and low unemployment, where earnings grew a solid 3.4 per cent.
The data reflected a fall in poverty from 12.3 per cent in 2017 to 11.8 per cent last year. Besides, women saw vigorous employment gains.
However, the growth in household income —- comprising of earnings and all other sources of cash —- crippled after three years of steady growth. Census officials were unable to identify the cause of the stalemate.
Moreover, nearly 27.5 million residents, or 8.5 per cent of people, did not have health insurance in 2018. The Census Bureau stated that it is an increase of almost 2 million from 2017, when 7.9 per cent Americans lacked coverage.
Since the Great Recession, it was the first year-to-year increase in the percentage of people without insurance. According to the bureau officials the steady expansion of coverage reversed since the Affordable Care Act took effect in 2014.
Also known as Obamacare, the act has been consistently campaigned to be abolished by the Trump administration, which failed to take steps to weaken the law’s benefits and protections. A drop of 0.7 per cent in the uninsured occurred in those covered by Medicaid, the publicly funded health program for the poor, that the administration has been attempting to strengthen.
“The decline in public coverage certainly contributed” to the overall fall in those covered by any type of health insurance, said Laryssa Mykyta, chief of the Health and Disability Statistics branch at the Census Bureau, in a conference call with reporters.
Private plans coverage also showed a decline, but was not considered statistically significant. “For children we saw a similar pattern where there was a decline in public coverage and no statistical change in private coverage,” she said.
While President Trump brags of strongest ever economy, the recent surveys show increasing concern of recession. In addition, several economists believe that the administration’s trade was with China and other nations is impairing the US economic growth.
The Census Bureau’s data raises bold questions about how Trump’s economic policies have been felt by the people. Along with Michigan and Ohio, other states like Texas, Idaho, Arizona, Alabama and Tennessee also drove the national decline in health insurance coverage. These were the states that votes for Trump in 2016.
However, unemployment rate in US fell to 3.9 per cent by the end of 2018, and since has declined further giving rise to what now is the longest US economic expansion in history. However, the benefits have mostly centered in the metropolitan areas, which are more likely to vote for the Democrats.
While the report reflected declining data of health insurance coverage, Democrats were quick to blame the opposition. As health is still the major election reform agenda, the report is expected to impact the upcoming elections, mainly in favor of the left-wing party.