Percentage Without Health Insurance Grows In Metro Chicago And Illinois

Health insurance site
Health insurance marketplace website, Andrew Harnik/AP Photo
Health insurance site
Health insurance marketplace website, Andrew Harnik/AP Photo

Percentage Without Health Insurance Grows In Metro Chicago And Illinois

The percentage of residents of the Chicago metro area without health insurance has increased for the first time since 2013, according to new U.S. Census data released Thursday.

Census estimates also show Illinois is one of 14 states that saw an increase in the uninsured last year — reversing a recent trend. From 2010 to 2016, the state’s uninsured rate fell by more than half because of the Affordable Care Act.

In 2017, an estimated 6.8 percent of Illinois residents were without health insurance. That figure was an estimated 13.8 percent in 2010, the year the Affordable Care Act was signed into law. In metro Chicago, an estimated 7.6 percent of residents were without health insurance last year. In 2010, that figure was an estimated 15 percent.

Katie Buitrago, of the nonprofit Heartland Alliance, blames the reversal on missteps by the state.

After passage of the Affordable Care Act in 2010, the percentage of uninsured residents in Chicago and Illinois declined dramatically until 2017, according to the latest American Community Survey estimates released Thursday by the U.S. Census Bureau. (WBEZ)

“In Illinois we implemented a new electronic Medicaid eligibility system in 2017, resulting in glitches and inappropriate cancellations of benefits,” Buitrago said. She also said the Trump administration’s shortening of the sign-up period for health care exchanges, and its cuts to marketing and outreach budgets factor in the decline.

The population data comes from the 2017 American Community Survey, which gives detailed statistics on demographics, housing, employment, and a host of other categories.

While many figures from 2016 to 2017 didn’t make a huge jump, there are some noteworthy population trends in Chicago and the region as a whole.

While the city has seen an increase in its share of white population the past few years, the opposite was true in 2017 for Cook County, as a whole, and the four largest collar counties. Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake, and Will counties all saw slight declines in their share of white population from 2016 to 2017.

Collectively, residents in the city and the region are getting older.

The median age for all Chicagoans was an estimated 34.6 years in 2017, almost a full year higher than it was in 2013. For the full Chicago metro area, the median age increased from 36.5 to 37.4 years during that span.

Part of that trend is driven by an increase of the city’s oldest residents, a decrease of its youngest residents, and racial demographic shifts.

In Chicago, the median age for African-Americans (an estimated 36.7 years in 2017) and Latinos (30.8 years) has been going up while it has remained flat for whites (36.4 years).

The numbers of residents that are 65 years of age and older increased in 2017 in Chicago, Cook County, and the metro area overall. However, the number of residents under the age of 18 declined in the city, county, and metro area last year.

Odette Yousef and Natalie Moore are reporters on WBEZ’s Race, Class and Communities desk. Follow them on Twitter at @oyousef and @natalieymoore.