People of Northwest Public Radio
Shots - Health News
Mon March 10, 2014
As Health Law Takes Hold, Rate Of Uninsured Falls
Originally published on Mon March 10, 2014 2:34 pm
Since the Affordable Care Act kicked in fully, the percentage of Americans without health coverage has fallen to its lowest point in five years.
In the last quarter of 2013, just before the federal health law took full effect, 17.1 percent of Americans reported they lacked health insurance, according to a Gallup survey.
When the survey was taken (between Jan. 2 and Feb. 28), the rate had dropped to 1.2 percentage points to 15.9 percent.
The findings come from landline and cellphone interviews conducted with more than 28,000 Americans.
More people reported being covered by insurance they purchased themselves or by Medicaid. The percentage who said they were covered by employer plans fell slightly.
"The uninsured rate for almost every major demographic group has dropped in 2014 so far," Gallup said.
The biggest decline in the uninsured rate was seen among people who earned less than $36,000 a year — a drop of 2.8 percentage points to 27.9 percent. Among blacks, another group that saw a big change, the uninsured rate fell 2.6 percentage points to 18 percent.
Medicaid enrollment in states that took advantage of federal funding to expand coverage for low-income people could help explain that decline.
The uptake of insurance among the young was a bit less dramatic. The uninsured rate for 26- to 34-year-olds declined by 1.6 percentage points. Under the Affordable Care Act, adult children can stay on their parents' plans until they turn 26.
The Gallup survey only asks about adults, so it may understate the total number of people being added to the health insurance rolls.
The margin of error for the survey is plus or minus 1 percentage point, so some of the changes seen aren't much greater than the statistical noise.