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Number of uninsured Americans dropped substantially this year

Health Care Reform and Policy
by Josh Hammerquist
Uninsurance rate continues to decline nationwide
Uninsurance rate continues to decline nationwide

One of the most important aspects of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was, as the name implies, designed to make sure more Americans had access to reasonably priced health insurance coverage going forward. Now, new data from the federal government shows that this aspect of the law may be considered a rousing success.

Through the end of the first quarter of the year, only about 41 million Americans nationwide were still without health insurance, down roughly 8 percent from the 44.8 million on an annual basis, according to the latest National Health Interview Survey's early release from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Moreover, it should be noted that an even larger number of people took on coverage in the second quarter of the year, as the deadline to sign up for the exchanges drew nearer.

That number included people over the age of 65 who would have been covered by Medicare, but among people under that age, 61.8 percent (or about 165.6 million) noted that they were covered by private health insurance plans, the report said. About 1.4 percent of that portion of the population (accounting for 3.7 million people) had their private plans through the government's health insurance exchanges, and that number ended up ballooning to more than 8 million within just a few months.

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Meanwhile, in states where lawmakers voted to expand Medicaid coverage to more people - another important aspect of the ACA - there was an even larger drop in uninsurance rates among adults between the ages of 18 and 64 years old, the report said. In all, only 15.7 percent of those people were without coverage at the time of their interviews, down from 18.4 percent a year earlier. Meanwhile, states where no such changes were made to the Medicaid systems predictably saw more uninsurance among adults, at 21.5 percent, down roughly one point during that same period.

Because of all these changes, it seems as though health insurance companies are likely going to have to make sure their offerings are as diversified as possible. This will help people to find the coverage option that will best suit their medical and financial needs while still making sure they can comply with the federal health insurance coverage mandate going forward. That could both help improve their access to medical care and avoid fines related to going without such coverage.

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