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Uninsurance rates reached new lows in the fourth quarter

Health Care and Health Insurance
by Cabe Chadick
Some worry about paying full price for exchange insurance
Some worry about paying full price for exchange insurance

Nationwide, the number of people who do not have health insurance continues to dwindle precipitously, thanks to many of the provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. In fact, through the end of last year, that number had reached all-time record lows, after having trended downward for some time.

By the end of 2014, the share of uninsured adults across the country had slipped to 12.9 percent, likely the lowest level seen since tracking began in 2008, according to the latest quarterly data from Gallup. That number is down from 17.1 percent at the same time a year earlier, as well as from the 13.4 percent seen in the third quarter of 2014. That further marked a decline of nearly one-quarter in the number of people who didn't have health insurance prior to the ACA's coverage mandate going into effect at the start of 2014.

However, it should be noted that the more recent declines are down sharply from those seen in the first and second quarters of the year, when Americans were scrambling to obtain health insurance ahead of the oft-extended deadline, the report said. However, there were more appreciable drops over the course of the year when getting into demographic numbers.

Young people, minorities, low-income houses most impacted
Nationwide, the biggest declines seen in uninsurance rates were seen in the demographic groups that had largely been considered the ones that needed it most, the report said. For instance, young adults between 18 to 25 years old saw their uninsurance rate drop to 17.4 percent, down nearly 26 percent from the number seen at the start of 2014. This is also true of African-Americans, whose uninsurance rates slipped by nearly a third to just 13.9 percent, and Hispanics, who saw their rates drop more than 16 percent to a still-high number of 32.4 percent.

Further, households making less than $36,000 annually saw uninsurance rates slide to 23.8 percent, the report said. That was down 22.5 percent from the previous level of 30.7 percent of all such households.

This may be good news for insurance companies, who are seeing more people take on coverage as a means of complying with the ACA in 2015. That could end up being a boon to both policy providers and purchasers, because it will help the latter afford coverage, and the former see more business going forward.

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