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Uninsured Rate Drops to Lowest Level Since 2008

by: Emily Cadik

Wed Mar 12, 2014 at 09:00 AM CDT

See that drop in the uninsured rate? That's the Affordable Care Act working.

A recent survey for the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index found that 15.9 percent of adults are uninsured nationwide, down from 17.1 percent just three months ago and over 2 points down from the recent peak of 18 percent. The uninsured rate is now on pace to drop to the lowest level since before Obama took office.

According to the survey, somewhere between 3 and 4 million people are newly insured in the last few months. The administration's estimates are must higher - they claim 4 million have enrolled on the exchanges and another 9 million through Medicaid. We've also seen estimates that 300,000 Texans have enrolled to date. It may still be a while before we have definitive figures. But at least this much is clear - the Affordable Care Act has brought affordable health care coverage to millions of previously uninsured Americans.

See how different demographic groups have been impacted after the jump.

Nearly every demographic group has seen a significant drop in its uninsured rate. The largest drop was among households making less than $36,000 per year, most of whom now qualify for substantial health insurance subsidies under the Affordable Care Act.

The only group that didn't see a major drop was the 65 and over crowd - a group already saturated in terms of Medicare coverage and with an uninsured rate that hovers around only 2 percent.

One number that jumps out is the disproportionately low drop in the uninsured rate among Latinos. While rates dropped by 2.6 points among African Americans and 1 percent among whites, it dropped by less than one percentage point among Latinos. Though Latino communities have been a major focus of Affordable Care Act outreach, there is clearly much more that needs to be done in order to bring down an uninsured rate of almost 40 percent - a rate twice that of African Americans and almost four times that of whites.

There are just over three weeks left in the 2014 open enrollment period, meaning the uninsured rate will continue to decline. After March 31, most uninsured people will have to pay a fine - on top of paying for more expensive medical care.  

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