Yesterday, the Census released 2011 data on health care coverage in the United States. The data reveals some encouraging news: In 2011, we saw positive trends in health coverage for the first time since 2007. Some 1.3 million more people had health insurance compared to 2010, and the overall proportion of those without coverage fell to 15.7 percent, down from 16.3 percent in 2010.

Women also fared better in 2011. The data shows that overall, more women had health coverage:

  • An additional 219,000 women had health coverage in 2011, with the percentage of uninsured women (18 to 64) declining slightly from 19.9 percent in 2010 to 19.6 percent in 2011.
  • An additional 760,000 women had Medicaid coverage in 2011, with the percentage of women covered through Medicaid rising to 12.3 percent from 11.6 percent in 2010.

Most notably, women’s coverage through Medicaid grew by 760,000 women, while private coverage—employer-sponsored insurance in particular—fell. These dynamics reinforce the critical role that Medicaid plays in our health care system, especially for women.

The most impressive change in coverage occurred among young adults ages 19 to 25. This change is attributable largely to a provision in the Affordable Care Act that expands dependent coverage to young adults up to age 26. The overall percentage of young adults without insurance dropped to 27.7 percent from 29.8 percent with 210,000 young women gaining coverage in 2011.