Number of uninsured drops as ACA coverage starts

January 23, 2014

The number of uninsured people in the U.S. continues to decline, most noticeably in populations that need insurance the most.

The number of uninsured people in the U.S. continues to decline, most noticeably in populations that need insurance the most, according to a recent Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index.

From December 2013 to the first two weeks in January 2014, the number of uninsured adults fell 1.2 percentage points from 17.3% to 16.1%. The number of adults reporting that they had no insurance spiked in mid-2013, when 18.6% told Gallup they were uninsured.

Uninsured rates declined the most for the unemployed during the Gallup survey period. In December 2013, almost 41% of unemployed adults reported not having insurance. That number fell almost 7 percentage points to 34% in January. Also, nonwhites saw a 2.6 percentage point drop in being uninsured, from more than 29% in December 2013 to 26.5% in January.

Unfortunately, the healthcare industry’s prized demographic-the young invincibles-reported the least amount of change in the number who signed up for insurance. In December 2013, 24.7% of adults between 18 and 34 years old reported being uninsured; that number dipped slightly to 24.5% in January.

The numbers suggest that people rushed to Healthcare.gov in December of last year to sign up for insurance through the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to become eligible for benefits at the beginning of the year. More than 975,000 of the 2.1 million people signed up for insurance through the exchanges in the month of December, with 83,000 of them signed in to Healthcare.gov on December 23 deadline, according to Forbes.com.

“The Obama administration and other proponents of the new healthcare law have a long way to go in hopes of reaching the goal of increasing the number of Americans who have health coverage,” Gallup states.

Ultimately, the healthcare reform plan aims to insure 7 million people in its initial 6-month enrollment period ending in March. Some experts say early glitches with the Healthcare.gov website deterred many who would have signed up early as they became frustrated or confused by the enrollment process.

Experts believe that, similar to Massachusetts’ healthcare reform plan, the majority of enrollees will sign up before the March 31 enrollment deadline.