Rate of Uninsured People in the U.S. Has Dropped 4.2 Percent Since Insurance Requirements Began

Jan 7, 2015

Credit Adrian Clark / Flickr (Creative Commons License)

The uninsured rate has dropped 4.2 percentage points since the Affordable Care Act’s requirement for Americans to have health insurance went into effect last year, according to a Gallup-Healthways Well Being analysis.

During the fourth quarter of 2014, the uninsured rate dropped to 12.9 percent. This is the lowest recorded rate since Gallup-Healthways began tracking the measure daily in 2008.

A year ago the uninsured rate was 17.1 percent.

The survey found that the uninsured rate declined as more Americans signed up for health insurance through federal and state health insurance exchanges in the first and second quarters of 2014.

Carrie Banahan, executive director of Kynect, said the state health insurance exchange is the reason for the sharp decline in the uninsured rate in Kentucky.

“We had the second largest rate decline in uninsured in the nation and that is all attributed to Kynect—enrolling people in Medicaid expansion and qualified health plans,” she said.

Kentucky’s uninsured rate in 2013 was 20.4 percent compared to 11.9 percent midyear 2014, according to a Gallup-Healthways Well Being Index surveyreleased in August.

In the last three weeks,  3,000 people have newly enrolled in a qualified health plan;  75,700 people have auto-renewed the private health insurance plans they purchased last year; and 9,581 individuals newly met eligibility requirements for Medicaid, the majority of which qualified for coverage under the expansion, according to a news release from Gov. Steve Beshear’s office.

The U.S. uninsured rate also decreased based on race, age and socioeconomic status.

The uninsured rate of Americans earning less than $36,000 annually dropped to 6.9 percent.

The Hispanic population has the highest uninsured rate at 32.4 percent, and among them the uninsured rate is down 6.3 points since the end of 2013.

The uninsured rate among blacks dropped seven points over the past year.

The uninsured rate dropped the most among people ages 18 to 25, falling 6.1 points from a year ago. The rate fell 6.5 points for people ages 26 to 34 and 5.2 points for people ages 35 to 64.

Researchers suspect the percentage of  uninsured Americans 65 and older has not changed because they are Medicare recipients.

Banahan said the agency will continue efforts to reach out to uninsured adults in Kentucky.

“Through our marketing efforts, TV commercials, newspaper ads, our billboards, our Kynectors, our events to educate people about  the availability of health insurance coverage through Kynect, whether that’s through Medicaid or a private health insurance plan,” she said.

The fourth-quarter results are based on more than 43,000 interviews with U.S. adults from Oct. 1 to Dec. 30, 2014. Each day 500 U.S. adults were asked if they had health insurance.

The following statistics from Gov. Steve Beshear’s office are current as of 3:30 p.m. Monday:

  • 398,541 unique visitors viewing more than 13.6 million pages;
  • 215,923 individuals have conducted preliminary screenings;
  • 306,213 calls have been handled by the kynect contact center;
  • 22,352 new accounts have been created;
  • 5,744 people have downloaded the new kynect app;
  • 35,493 new applications for coverage have been submitted;
  • 25,720 have enrolled in Medicaid coverage;
  • 75,760 individuals have renewed their enrollment in a qualified health plan;
  • 12,529 individuals have newly enrolled in a qualified health plan;
  • 5,079 individuals have enrolled in dental plans; and
  • 5,541 visitors to the kynect store at Fayette Mall in Lexington have completed 3,215 applications for new coverage.

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