The nation’s uninsured rate dropped this month as the major coverage expansion under the Affordable Care Act got underway, according to the results of a survey released on Thursday.
The Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index found that the uninsured rate for U.S. adults dropped by 1.2 percentage points in January, to 16.1 percent. The biggest change was for unemployed people, a drop of 6.7 percentage points. That was followed by a 2.6 percentage-point decline for nonwhites. Traditionally both groups are far more likely to be uninsured than the population as a whole.
Based on interviews with more than 9,000 people, the Gallup numbers could be the first evidence that core provisions of Obama’s much-debated law have started delivering on the promise of access for nearly all Americans. The overall drop in the uninsured rate would translate to approximately 2 million to 3 million people gaining coverage.
The results of the survey are encouraging, as they indicate that the health law is doing what it was intended to do.
The uninsured rate had been expected to come down as the Affordable Care Act was implemented,” said Frank Newport, Gallup’s editor in chief. “That would be the most reasonable hypothesis.”
To date, at least 2.2 million Americans have enrolled in private health plans through Obamacare’s state and federal insurance marketplaces. Another 6.3 million individuals were deemed eligible for Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) between October and December.
A recent survey by the Commonwealth Fund yields more encouraging news for the Affordable Care Act. The report, released earlier this month, found that almost six in ten potentially eligible uninsured adults who had either not visited an Obamacare marketplace or visited one without signing up for a policy said they plan to enroll by the end of March.
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