U.S. Uninsured Rate Lowest Since 2008, Poll Finds
The U.S. uninsured rate is at its lowest since 2008, with 14.7% of adults lacking coverage in the last half of March, according to a Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index survey released Monday, the Los Angeles Times reports (Levey, Los Angeles Times, 4/7).
According to the poll of 43,562 randomly selected U.S. adults between Jan. 2 and March 31, enrollment in health coverage surged near the end of the initial open enrollment period in the Affordable Care Act's health insurance exchanges.
The survey found that the number of adults without health insurance declined from 17.1% at the end of 2013 to 15.6% during the first three months of 2014. According to the AP/Yahoo! News, that decline represents about 3.5 million U.S. residents gaining coverage (Alonso-Zaldivar, AP/Yahoo! News, 4/7).
In total, the survey indicates that nearly eight million people have gained health insurance since September 2013. That figure factors in U.S. residents whose policies were canceled for not meeting the ACA's basic coverage standards. It also includes those who:
- Purchased coverage through the ACA's insurance exchanges;
- Became eligible for Medicaid under their state's expansion of the program under the law; and
- Gained coverage from other ACA provisions (Los Angeles Times, 4/7).
Further, the poll found the most significant increases in coverage rates came among low-income residents and African-Americans. Specifically, the survey found that:
- The share of uninsured U.S. residents with annual incomes below $36,000 declined by 3.2 percentage points since then end of last year; and
- The share of uninsured African-Americans dropped by 3.3 percentage points since the end of 2013.
Meanwhile, Hispanics remained more likely to be uninsured than any other racial group, despite a 1.7 percentage point decrease in uninsured rates since the end of last year. According to the poll, 37% of Hispanics still lack health coverage (AP/Yahoo! News, 4/7).
The poll noted it is likely that a portion of the new enrollees will fail to pay their insurance premiums, causing them to lose coverage. However, the poll also noted that more people will likely gain coverage under the law, such as those living in states that are just expanding their Medicaid programs and those who started applying for coverage through the ACA's exchanges prior to the March 31 deadlines (Los Angeles Times, 4/7).
Last-Minute Enrollment Among Young Adults
In related news, data from five state-run exchanges showed that more young, healthy U.S. residents enrolled in health coverage in the final months of the ACA's first open enrollment period, the Washington Post's "Wonkblog" reports.
The data come from breakdowns of enrollment figures from exchanges in five states and the District of Columbia. HHS and nine other state-run exchanges have not yet provided demographic breakdowns for March.
Despite the uptick, enrollment among young adults likely is not high enough to reach the Obama administration's goal to have 40% of total enrollees be between ages 18 and 34, according to "Wonkblog" (Millman, "Wonkblog," Washington Post, 4/4).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.