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National uninsurance rate declined again last year

Health Care and Health Insurance
by Bonnie Albritton
National uninsurance rate declined again last year
National uninsurance rate declined again last year

Plenty of data has suggested that the number of people going without health insurance is declining sharply since the implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act's coverage mandate and associated exchanges. And indeed, that number dropped once again in 2014, as millions of Americans - especially those living in poverty - are brought into the fold and provided with plans for what could be the first time in their lives.

Last year, the percentage of Americans who did not have health insurance for all of 2014 slid to just 10.4 percent, down appreciably from the 13.3 percent seen in 2013, according to the latest data from the U.S. Census Bureau. In all, that was a drop of nearly 9 million people, to 33 million from the previous year's 41.8 million.

Who was affected most?
Meanwhile, about 14.8 percent of Americans spent last year living below the poverty line, amounting to 46.7 million people, and suggesting that a significant portion of those who live below that income level are provided with some kind of coverage, the report said. However, it should be noted that neither the poverty rate nor the total number of people under it was changed from the previous year. That level actually hasn't changed very much in any of the previous four years.

In addition, the median household income across the U.S. was a little less than $53,700, and that number also wasn't much changed from the previous year, the report said. However, that comes after three straight years of drops, so it may represent something of an improvement overall.

Millions of Americans gained health insurance for all of 2014.Millions of Americans gained health insurance for all of 2014.

A closer look at the numbers
In addition to the large percentage of Americans who had coverage for the entire year, still more had it for at least part of 2014, the report said. In all, 89.6 percent of Americans had coverage for "some or all" of last year, up from 2013's rate of 86.7 percent.

Moreover, this increase came as a result of not only the broadening governmental involvement in the health care market, but also as more people gained access to private coverage, the report said. The latter number increased about 1.8 percent, and now nearly 2 in 3 Americans have private health insurance plans. Meanwhile, the rate of people insured by the government increased 2 percent to about 36.5 percent of Americans.

As one might imagine, employer-based coverage made up the biggest portion of consumers are covered through their workplaces (55.4 percent), well ahead of the second-largest source of insurance nationwide (Medicaid at 19.5 percent), the report said. Next came Medicare (16 percent), consumers buying coverage independently (14.6 percent), and military health plans (4.5 percent).

This is all likely to be good news for insurers overall, and gives them something to monitor going forward. In each of the next few years, there is likely to be more people obtaining coverage in some way, and policy providers may need to prepare themselves accordingly in the coming months.



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