A recently released joint Gallup and Healthways poll shows that the rate of uninsured Americans continues to fall across the country. Just from 2016’s first quarter to the second – three months’ time — the uninsured rates for those 18 and over were shown to have fallen from 11.9 to 11.4 percent. Even more impressive, since 2013’s fourth quarter, this rate’s dropped by six percentage points.
That last quarter of 2013 was the last measured period before the passing of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). And as the table below shows, this is actually the lowest recorded percentage since Gallup and Healthways began their daily tracking in 2008. The latest finding offers further evidence that the Affordable Care Act continues to exceed expectations for the entire nation and its healthcare system.
For this poll, part of the larger Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, the two firms interviewed about 44,000 U.S. adults in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, from April 1 to June 30, 2015. Each day, they questioned 500 U.S. adults about their health insurance coverage (if any). Generally, the findings showed that the uninsured rates declined late in the first quarter, after the Feb. 15 deadline to purchase health insurance; the rate held steady throughout the second quarter.
Examining the lower uninsured findings
In terms of demographics, the researchers noted that the lower rates were distributed pretty evenly throughout the nation (see table below). And, this distribution had been spread out evenly since 2013. However, since the ACA’s establishment, they did note that the uninsured rates among Hispanics, blacks and lower-income Americans were highest. Specifically, the findings showed that from 2013’s fourth quarter to this latest quarter:
- The uninsured rate among Hispanics declined by 9.6 points
- The uninsured rate among blacks declined by 8.9 points
- The uninsured rate among those making less than $36,000 in annual household income declined by 9.9 points
An important aspect of these lower uninsured rates was the beneficiaries’ specific type of insurance purchased. The researchers chose to focus on American adults between the ages of 18 and 64; those 65 and over had Medicare coverage. This aspect was crucial to the survey, as the ACA was expected to bring about potential changes in available insurance types. The researchers also questioned the survey’s respondents about their secondary health insurance coverage and the type. These findings (see table below) include:
- For 18-64-year-old with fully paid plans, either by themselves or a family member, 20.9 percent were covered in the second quarter, compared to 17.6 percent in 2013’s fourth quarter.
- 4 percent of 18-64-year-old s have health insurance through a current or former employer. This rate has remained relatively stable since 2013’s fourth quarter.
- For 18-64-year-old with Medicaid, 9.5 percent of 18- to 64-year-olds had coverage last quarter, compared to 6.9 percent in 2013’s final quarter. This is likely due to the ACA’s Medicaid expansion.
Indeed, the expansion of Medicaid, the health insurance program for lower-income beneficiaries, seems to have played a big role on these lower uninsured rates. Another Gallup poll (see table below) found that for the first half of 2015, those 22 states supporting Obamacare and the Medicaid expansion showed that the uninsured rate fell 7.1 points. However, in those 28 states that implemented one or neither of these health programs, the uninsured rate only fell by 5.3 points. Nationwide, the uninsured rate in the first half of 2015 fell to 17.3 percent, compared to 17.3 percent for all of 2013.
What do these lower uninsured rates mean?
The Supreme Court’s recent decision in King vs. Burwell, ruling in favor of the ACA, means that millions of Americans will be able to afford and maintain their healthcare coverage. This decision also represents a major victory for the healthcare law itself. Had the Court ruled against the ACA, millions would have had to forgo their coverage.
So, as proof of the Affordable Care Act’s positive impact on America, what better evidence could there be than the latest uninsured rate being the lowest since 2008? And with 2016 enrollment beginning on Nov. 1, 2015, the uninsured rates are expected to decline less than the previous year.