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Small Business Employee Benefits and HR Blog

Health Reform & the Number of Uninsured Americans - Part II

January 22, 2014
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Now that major provisions of the Affordable Care Act are in play, what does the uninsured rate look like and is it changing how Americans are covered?

As we wrote about in "Part I", one of the goals of the Affordable Care Act, according to the administration, is to increase access to more affordable health coverage and thereby reduce the number of uninsured Americans. In that article we provided a look at the uninsured rate in 2011. Here's an updated snapshot of the uninsured rate in America, through the end of 2013.

Uninsured Rates Dipped in Q4 2013

According to a recent Gallop poll, the U.S. uninsured rate declined to 17.2% in the fourth quarter of 2013 from a six-year high of 18.1% in the third quarter. It now matches the uninsured rate found in the second quarter of 2013. This marks the first drop in the uninsured rate since the end of 2012.

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The data was collected in the fourth quarter of 2013, after the Affordable Care Act's individual health insurance marketplaces opened on October 1, but before newly purchased health insurance plans became effective on January 1, 2014.

  • The uninsured rate was ~14.5% in 2008 and it generally increased until the end of 2011, when it was 17.5%. It declined throughout 2012, but rose again in the first three quarters of 2013.

  • Young adults still seem to benefit from healthcare law: Young adults have the highest uninsured rate of any age group Gallup tracks. However, the percentage of uninsured 18- to 25-year-olds has been lower since the provision in the ACA allowing this age group to remain on their parents' plans went into effect in September 2010.

  • Of those polled, 45.6% of insured Americans say their plan is through a current or former employer, 20% currently have Medicare, 11% have a different type of plan paid for by the government (Medicaid, military or veterans' insurance), and 17.2% have a plan fully paid for by themselves or a family member.

What stood out is the number of people polled who have a plan fully paid for by themselves or a family member -- 17.2%. This is significantly higher than the results of a 2011 report by the US Census that found 6% of Americans have an individual or family health insurance plan.

Percentage Uninsured in the U.S by Age, 2008-2013

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Type of Primary Health Insurance Coverage in the US, Q4 2013

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Source: Gallop (click here for full survey results).

What trends in the uninsured rate or in health insurance do you expect to see in the coming year? Leave a comment or question below.

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