The uninsured rate in the US plunged to its lowest level since 1997, a new government survey found, partly reflecting the implementation of certain elements of the Affordable Care Act.
Though other studies have shown a sharp decline in the uninsured rate since the law’s full implementation, the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention’s survey provides the gold-standard estimate and the first official government look at the uninsured since the start of the year.
During the first three months of the year, according to the new data, the uninsured rate fell to 13.1%. That was a 1.3% drop from the first quarter of last year, reflecting a decline of 3.8 million uninsured in the country. Both numbers are the lowest on record since 1997, when the CDC began tallying the uninsured through this type of survey.
The decline in both the uninsured rate and the overall population does not reflect a late surge in enrollment at the end of March and in early April, when millions signed up for private health insurance toward the end of the law’s first open-enrollment period. That means subsequent tallies will likely show the uninsured rate plunging even further.
The percentage of adults aged 18-64 who lacked insurance fell to 18.4% from 20.4% on a year-over-year basis, while the percentage of children fell to 6.6%. Much of the decline in adults 18-64 came from adults aged 19-25, whose uninsured rate fell almost 6 percentage points.
“The overall picture is clear: the Affordable Care Act is working and well on its way to ensuring that all Americans have access to high-quality, affordable health care,” the White House’s Jeanne Lambrew and Matt Fielder wrote in an analysis of the numbers.
Here’s a chart from the CDC that breaks down the number of uninsured:
And this chart from the White House shows a the decline by age group:
Other independent studies have also provided evidence that the law is having a dramatic effect on the uninsured rate. Gallup has attributed the lowest uninsured rate it has ever recorded to the Affordable Care Act’s implementation. A RAND Corp. study showed the uninsured rate dropping nearly 5 percentage points. And a Commonwealth Fund study showed the rate plummeted by nearly one-quarter during a nine-month stretch in which the law was fully being implemented.
Overall, the CDC found that 165.6 million people were insured under private plans. Among working-age adults 18-64, 17.1% were insured through public programs, and 65.6% had private coverage. had public health insurance, 65.6 per cent had private coverage.
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