The US Census Bureau carries out a yearly survey called the American Community Survey (ACS). This is one of the main sources of demographic information for the United States and Puerto Rico. It includes questions regarding housing, income, work, poverty, and many other subjects.
The ACS 5-year estimates for 2020, which are based on information collected from 2016-2020, have recently been released. This gives us a first look at the immediate demographic and economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic in Puerto Rico.
While ACS data shows Puerto Rico’s population decreasing by 62,716, the population with health insurance coverage decreased by 66,664, or 2.2%. The share of the island’s population without health insurance increased by 3,948 (1.8%), reaching a total of 219,775, or 6.8% of the total. Compared to the US, this is two percentage points lower.
Lack of health-insurance coverage is highest amongst the unemployed population, with 14.5% not having health insurance compared to 6.8% for the population at large. Public health insurance coverage is lowest amongst the employed, with 29.4% having public insurance versus 61.3% of the general population.
Puerto Rico’s population stands out as being more reliant on public health care coverage than the US’s. 61% of the island’s population has public health insurance, compared to just 35.3% in the US. Medicare funding parity is of great concern to Puerto Rico. If a sustainable agreement is not reached in Congress, more than 1.9 million Puerto Ricans could be affected.