One of the goals of enacting the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was to reduce the percentage of Americans without health insurance. The ACA, and more specifically, the individual shared responsibility provision have already led to a significant drop in the number of uninsured Americans in 2014.
Rate of Uninsured Americans Has Dropped Since Open Enrollment
A recent poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation shows that over half of the Marketplace enrollees who enrolled in individual health insurance during the last open enrollment period were uninsured. In addition, a recent poll conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed a significant drop in the level of uninsured Americans through March of 2014.
The most recent Well-Being Index poll conducted by Gallup and Healthways showed that the rate of uninsured Americans has remained steady at 13.4 percent since the second quarter of 2014.
Background on the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index
Gallup and Healthways have been tracking the percentage of American adults without health insurance coverage since 2008. The third quarter results are based on more than 44,900 interviews with American adults from July 1, 2014 to September 30, 2014 as part of the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index. Every night, Gallup and Healthways ask 500 American adults whether they have health insurance to allow for precise and ongoing measurement of the percentage.
Percentage of Uninsured Adults Remains Steady
According to the polling results, the percentage of uninsured adults has remained at 13.4 percent, the lowest since Gallup and Healthways began tracking it in 2008.
The sharp decline from 17.1 percent happened at the beginning of 2014 when the individual shared responsibility provision of the ACA came into effect. The ACA’s requirement for most Americans to have health insurance coverage in order to avoid a fine has had a significant impact on the rate of uninsured Americans.
Rate of Uninsured Americans Declines Most in the West
Since the end of 2013, the most significant decrease in the rate of uninsured Americans was in the West. The rate of uninsured Americans has dropped 4.8 percentage points, from 18.7 percent to 13.9 percent.
There were also significant declines in the other regions:
The rate of uninsured Midwesterners fell 3.9 percentage points, from 13.7 percent to 9.8 percent
The rate of uninsured Southerners fell 3.4 percentage points, from 20.4 percent to 17 percent
The South maintains the highest uninsured population among all four regions
The Northeast’s rate of uninsurance has fallen from 12.5 percent to 9.8 percent
A Majority of Adults Covered by Employer-Sponsored or Self-Funded Plans
Employer-sponsored health insurance remains the most common method of obtaining insurance for Americans age 18 through 64; however, the rate has decreased from 44.4 percent to 43.3 percent since 2013.
The percentage of Americans who have self-funded health insurance has increased from 16.7 percent to 20.7 percent. Gallup attributes the four point increase as the result of many more Americans obtaining individual health insurance through a government exchange. In addition, Gallup attributes the increase of individuals with Medicaid to the ACA’s Medicaid expansion.