Since Congress passed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in 2010, the number of people who go without health insurance each year has fallen slowly but steadily. There was an even sharper decline when the federally mandated insurance exchanges opened in late 2013, and that trend has continued each year since. Now, the number of uninsured Americans is at an all-time low.
Through the end of the first quarter of the year, only about 8.6 percent of Americans didn't have health insurance, according to the latest National Health Interview Survey from the National Center for Health Statistics. And while that still left about 27.3 million people nationwide without coverage of any kind, that number was down 1.3 million on an annual basis and 21.3 million since the ACA first passed in 2010.
A closer look at the stats
The number of adults between 18 and 64 who receive their coverage from the exchanges now significantly exceeds that of people who go without insurance, at 19.5 percent of Americans for the former and 11.9 percent for the latter, the report said. These trends originally crossed in 2014, the year the exchanges first opened, but have continued to grow farther apart since. At the same time, 70.2 percent of adults receive coverage through private plans, in line with some of the highest levels seen since 1997.
Meanwhile, children under the age of 18 had an uninsured rate of just 5 percent, the report said. Of that group, 54.9 percent had private coverage, and 42.1 percent got it through public sources, indicating just how much of a positive impact the exchanges have had on kids in particular.
And among adult age groups, the most likely to be uninsured were between the ages of 25 and 34 (15.9 percent), the report said. In addition, about 14.3 percent of consumers between 35 and 44 went without coverage, and 13.7 percent of 18- to 24-year-olds did as well. Those aged 45 to 64 only had an uninsurance rate of 8.1 percent.
Some still struggle
One of the groups that is most likely to have problems in obtaining health insurance is recent immigrants to the U.S., according to USA Today. Altogether, issues of properly documenting their identities held about 500,000 immigrants out of getting coverage on the exchanges in the last open enrollment period.
The good news is that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is moving to correct these issues as effectively as possible. About 117,000 immigrants had their coverage canceled after data conflicts arose in the 2015 open enrollment period, but the government cut that number to just 17,000 this year, a decline of 85 percent.
For all these reasons, the more insurers can do to reach out to consumers and educate them about their options, as well as what the law now requires of them when it comes to having insurance coverage, the better off all involved will be. This is especially important in the final months of 2016 when open enrollment will begin again.