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Early Data Show Decline in Uninsured Under Health Reform

How many uninsured people have gained health coverage since the Affordable Care Act’s major coverage expansions took effect January 1?  While 2014 health coverage data from the major federal surveys won’t be available until mid-to-late next year, new data from three independent surveys suggest that health reform’s Medicaid expansion and subsidized marketplace coverage likely are already making substantial progress in reducing the ranks of the uninsured.

  • The latest results from the RAND Health Reform Opinion Study, released yesterday, show that the share of adults aged 18-64 without insurance fell by 4.7 percentage points between September 2013 and March 2014, from 20.5 percent to 15.8 percent.  The number of uninsured adults aged 18-64 fell by 9.3 million over this period, from 40.7 million to 31.4 million.
  • Data from the Urban Institute’s Health Reform Monitoring Survey show that the uninsured rate among adults aged 18-64 fell by 2.7 percentage points between the third quarter of 2013 and the first quarter of 2014, from 17.9 percent to 15.2 percent.  The number of uninsured non-elderly adults fell by 5.4 million.  Moreover, the Urban Institute notes that its results likely understate the coverage gains as they do not include the “enrollment surge that occurred at the end of the open enrollment period”; 80 percent of the survey for the first quarter of 2014 was conducted before March 6.
  • Poll results from the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index show that the share of adults (including those aged 65 and above) without health coverage fell by 1.5 percentage points between the fourth quarter of 2013 and the first quarter of 2014, from 17.1 percent to 15.6 percent — the lowest rate since the last quarter of 2008.  (We calculate, based on Census data, that the percentage-point reduction translates to a drop in the number of uninsured adults of roughly 3.6 million.)