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Number of uninsured Americans takes major hit to start 2014

Health Care and Health Insurance
by Rebecca Ewing
Despite ACA expansion, many still go without health insurance
Despite ACA expansion, many still go without health insurance

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was designed to help consumers find low-cost or even free health insurance through a number of different sources, and new evidence suggests that with the mandate, a large number of people nationwide who did not have it before recently gained coverage.

Between December 2013 and this month, the number of people who did not have health insurance nationwide dipped to 16.1 percent from the previous 17.3 percent, according to a new poll from Gallup. That's also down from the roughly 17 percent seen in January 2013. Prior to the real onset of the recession, when millions of Americans were laid off, that number was often hovering between 14 percent and 16 percent, but has spiked in recent years.

What is perhaps most interesting about these changes, though, is the demographic breakdown, the report said. For instance, the number of unemployed Americans who were without coverage experienced a significant decline in that one-month period, falling to 34.1 percent from December's 40.8 percent. Meanwhile, people who were considered "not in the workforce" saw their uninsured rate slip to 10.6 percent from 11.8 percent. Finally, those who said they had jobs but still did not have health insurance coverage fell by one percentage point, to 17.8 percent between the final month of last year and the first of 2014.

Other demographic changes
It should be noted, though, that the number of uninsured people between the ages of 18 and 34 changed very little during this time, the report said. The drop only accounted for 0.2 percentage points, and the number fell to 24.5 percent. This may be problematic because younger, healthier people in particular are said to be key to the success of the PPACA, and the exchanges it mandated. Meanwhile, the biggest change for any age group came for Americans between the ages of 35 and 64 years old, of whom 17 percent said they didn't have health insurance earlier this month. That's down from 19 percent in December.

Many health insurers may be able to capitalize on this latest information in order to help more Americans obtain coverage ahead of the March 31 deadline imposed by the federal government. After that date, any consumer that does not have a policy of their own will be subject to fines that might end up costing them more than they bargained for.

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