Uninsured rate keeps falling with help from exchanges, data show

More than 10 million Americans have obtained health insurance in last year

The number of uninsured Americans has decreased by more than 10 million people, or about 30 percent, in one year, primarily because of the Affordable Care Act's health insurance exchanges and Medicaid expansion, according to a new analysis conducted by the Urban Institute.

Between September 2013 and this past September, 10.6 million people have obtained health coverage. That makes the nationwide uninsured rate 12.4 percent, a decrease of 5.3 percentage points since last September.

"The uninsurance rate for nonelderly adults has fallen sharply since the first marketplace open enrollment period began ... with larger gains in states that expanded Medicaid," concluded the analysis, which was funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Institute.

The largest drops overall in uninsured populations came from Hispanics and young adults between 18 and 30 years old. Insurance coverage for low-income adults also grew by 12 percentage points in one year.

In states that expanded Medicaid, young adults, men and minority adults had strong gains in coverage, while nonexpansion states saw young adults and women with the largest insurance gains.

"These new survey data provide more evidence that there has been a significant expansion of coverage to millions who were previously uninsured, thanks to marketplace plans and the expansion of Medicaid," said Katherine Hempstead, who directs coverage issues at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. "We will see how much this trend will continue during this year's open enrollment."

Those who remain uninsured fall into several general groups, Kaiser Health News reported. These include immigrants in the United States illegally, low-income adults in the 23 states that haven't expanded Medicaid, those who can afford individual coverage but not family plans, and those who simply do not want health insurance. 

Those uninsured numbers will likely continue to decrease now that the second enrollment period is open. In fact, a Gallup poll recently found that 55 percent of consumers who are still uninsured say they plan to sign up, FierceHealthPayer previously reported.

To learn more:
- read the Urban Institute analysis
- read the KHN article

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