New Census Data Shows One Million More Americans Uninsured in 2019, Even Before the Pandemic


California’s Uninsured Rate Up to 7.7%, With Three Million Uninsured Californians in 2019, And Now More Post-Pandemic; Urgent Action Needed To Keep Californians Covered and Expand Medi-Cal and Covered CA in Public Health Emergency

  • Nationally, the uninsured rate was 8% over the full year, 9.2% at a point in time; 29.6 million uninsured Americans, from 28.6 million and 8.9% rate in 2018.
  • California’s rate also went up, to 7.7% from 7.2%, just going over 3 million people–before the pandemic and the public health and economic emergencies.
  • This is the first increase in CA after years of progress under the ACA; CA had the second-biggest drop of the uninsured rate of all 50 states, from 18.5% in 2010.
  • Even with multiple actions taken to counter Trump Administration & Congressional attacks on the ACA, California still is part of national uptick in the uninsured.
  • In 2020, California initiated new efforts to expand coverage–adding affordability assistance in Covered California, and expanding Medi-Cal to all young adults regardless of immigration status–more important now with a public health and economic emergency that likely led hundreds of thousands to lose income, jobs, and health coverage.
  • Health consumer advocates stress the urgency of immediate action for further outreach and expansions to help Californians get and stay covered in a pandemic, through Medi-Cal and Covered California. 

SACRAMENTO – After years of decline after the enactment of the Affordable Care Act, the new 2019 Census data released today shows an increased in the uninsured rate nationally and in California, with the rate going up to 9.2%, with one million more Americans uninsured, totalling 29.6 million. California’s uninsured rate also went up in 2019, from 7.2% to 7.7%, creeping up just past 3 million Californians, according to the new Census data.

“Under the duration of the Trump Administration, the uninsured rate started to creep back up, even before the pandemic struck, and reports that millions more have lost their jobs, income, and health coverage as well. After the Affordable Care Act covered millions and brought our uninsured rate down, it is tragic that the Trump Administration attacks on our care have made the country’s uninsured rate rise–making our nation less prepared for the pandemic. Even before this public health emergency, we saw, in one year, one million more Americans uncovered, living sicker, dying younger, and an emergency away from financial ruin.” said Anthony Wright, executive director, Health Access California, the statewide health care consumer advocacy coalition.

“While our federal government continues to seek to take away our health care, California has actively responded to these attacks, to protect our progress in reducing the uninsured rate, but can’t counter national trends totally. Despite our efforts, California saw an uptick in the uninsured rate in 2019, up to 7.7%, with now three million Californians uninsured, and the pandemic has probably increased that number since.”

“Since these numbers in 2019, California provided new coverage options, including additional affordability assistance in Covered California, and expansions in Medi-Cal–now more important than ever in the middle of a public health emergency. Governor Newsom and the California Legislature should move quickly to further extend health care to ensure Californians get and keep coverage. California should continue to build on the leadership it has shown to further implement and improve upon the ACA, yielding the second-largest drop in the uninsured rate of all 50 states, down from 18.5% in 2010, according to this Census.”

“This Census report shows that the state action on coverage was urgent even before the pandemic. We have taken steps to expand Medi-Cal and increase affordability in Covered California earlier this year, and we must raise the revenues to preserve those programs in the pandemic and continue these coverage expansions that are so urgently needed, now more than ever.”