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Further Health Coverage Gains, Especially in Medicaid Expansion States

December 17, 2014 at 2:08 PM

The number of uninsured Americans fell by 6.8 million over the first two quarters of 2014, preliminary data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) National Health Interview Survey show.  These are the most up-to-date government survey data on the early impacts of health reform’s major coverage expansions, which took effect in January.  And they show a widening coverage gap between states that have adopted health reform’s Medicaid expansion and other states.

Superseding earlier CDC estimates, the new figures that the CDC released yesterday include the second quarter of 2014, when enrollment surged in state Medicaid programs and health reform marketplaces.  Together, the two reports show consistent progress across the year in reducing the ranks of the uninsured.

Some 12.2 percent of Americans were uninsured in the first six months of 2014, the CDC data show, a 2.2 percentage-point decline from 2013 and the lowest rate since the CDC first collected these data in 1997.  The uninsured rate has fallen by nearly a quarter since peaking at 16.0 percent in 2010.

Coverage gains were greatest among the population groups that have been least likely to have coverage.  The uninsured rate for people in families between 100 and 200 percent of the poverty line plummeted from 29.3 percent to 24.1 percent between 2013 and the first half of 2014.  Adults under age 26, Latinos, African Americans, and people with less than a high school education also experienced disproportionate gains.

Coverage gains among non-elderly adults were nearly twice as large in states that have expanded Medicaid as in non-expansion states, widening the gap between the uninsured rates in the two groups of states from 4.3 percentage points to 6.1 percentage points.  (See graph.)  Several more states are considering adopting the expansion, which would lead to further coverage gains.

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The new CDC figures are consistent with four independent surveys showing significant coverage gains in 2014, particularly among Medicaid expansion states.

While the CDC data were collected in January through June, private survey data from the Urban Institute show further coverage gains in the third quarter of 2014, while survey data from Gallup show coverage rates holding steady over this period.


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