Hillary Clinton says a record 90% of Americans have health insurance today
By Louis Jacobson, PolitiFact senior correspondent
During the second presidential debate in St. Louis, a member of the audience asked a question about the shortcomings of Obamacare, as the Affordable Care Act — President Barack Obama’s signature health care law — is sometimes called.
In her answer, Hillary Clinton defended the law, citing its provisions to end barriers to obtaining insurance for those who have preexisting conditions, and ending lifetime limits on coverage.
“If we repeal it, as Donald has proposed, and start over again, all of those benefits I just mentioned are lost to everybody — not just people who get their health insurance on the exchange,” she said. “And then we would have to start all over again.”
She went on to say that the practical consequences of the law have been strong. “Now we’re at 90 percent health insurance coverage,” she said. “That’s the highest we’ve ever been in our country.”
Is she correct? Yes.
The most widely cited data comes from the U.S. Census Bureau, which tabulates statistics annually on what percentage of Americans are covered by health insurance. The most recent report came out in September 2016, covering the year 2015.
The Census Bureau found that 90.9 percent of Americans had some type of health coverage, whether it was provided by their employer, purchased independently or through a government program such as Medicare or Medicaid. The remainder — 9.1 percent of Americans — were uninsured.
Here’s the key table from the report:
That was an improvement over the 89.6 percent in 2014, 86.7 percent in 2013, 84.6 percent in 2012, 84.3 percent in 2011, and 83.7 percent in 2010 — the year the Affordable Care Act was passed, although the law didn’t start having a major impact for another few years.
Meanwhile, between 1999 and 2009, the insured rate bounced from a low of 83.9 percent to a high of 86.9 percent, the furthest back the Census Bureau offers the statistic online. And at the time the 2015 data was released, it was framed as a record high for insurance coverage.
Looking at it the opposite way, the uninsured rate fell from 16.3 percent in 2010 to 9.1 percent in 2015 — a decline of nearly half over five years.
Clinton said, “Right now we are at 90 percent health insurance covered. That’s the highest we’ve ever been in our country.”
According to Census Bureau data, that’s correct; it was just shy of 91 percent in 2015, the most recent year for which data is available. We rate the statement True.
Hillary Clinton, remarks in the second presidential debate in St. Louis, Oct. 9, 2016
U.S. Census Bureau, “Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2015,” September 2016
U.S. Census Bureau, “HIB-2. Health Insurance Coverage Status and Type of Coverage All Persons by Age and Sex: 1999 to 2012,” accessed Oct. 9, 2016