Characteristics of the Remaining Uninsured

A man receives blood pressure screening at a health fair.

Uninsured population falls nearly 2.9 million between 2015 and 2017, but 30.1 million still lack coverage.


The Issue

The number of uninsured, nonelderly people in the United States dropped by nearly 2.9 million between 2015 and 2017, from 32.9 million to 30.1 million. The uninsured fell to 11.1 percent of the nonelderly population, with particularly large coverage gains for young adults ages 18 to 34, households located in the northeast, people with low-to-moderate income, and adults with lower educational attainment.

Key Findings

  • Uninsured rates declined significantly among non-Hispanic whites, Asians/Pacific Islanders, and Hispanics between 2015 and 2017, but the uninsured rate among non-Hispanic black people remained unchanged.

  • Consistent with gains on the basis of educational attainment, the uninsured rate among people with incomes below 200 percent of the federal poverty line fell from 18.9 percent to 17.3 percent from 2015 to 2017.

  • A disproportionate share of coverage gains occurred among people with the lowest incomes, least education and most limited attachment to the workforce, implying that those who remain uninsured likely will be harder to reach.


The authors highlight the characteristics of the remaining uninsured and the opportunity to further expand coverage with targeted outreach to the 7.5 million people eligible for Medicaid or CHIP who could obtain no- or very low-cost insurance coverage, as well as 3.1 million people eligible for the largest premium tax credits and cost-sharing reductions. Taken together, these groups account for 35.4 percent of the remaining uninsured.

About the Urban Institute

The nonprofit Urban Institute is dedicated to elevating the debate on social and economic policy. For nearly five decades, Urban scholars have conducted research and offered evidence-based solutions that improve lives and strengthen communities across a rapidly urbanizing world. Their objective research helps expand opportunities for all, reduce hardship among the most vulnerable, and strengthen the effectiveness of the public sector. Visit the Urban Institute’s Health Policy Center for more information specific to its staff and its recent research.