The percentage of Americans without health insurance dropped to its lowest rate in more than six years in the month of April, according to a new survey.
The Gallup report released Monday found the uninsured rate among American adults continued to decline in the final weeks of open enrollment under the Affordable Care Act's health insurance exchanges, with the overall rate dropping to 13.4%. According to Gallup, the April information "better captures the impact of late sign-ups since all interviewing occurred" during the final days of the extended enrollment period.
The uninsured rate peaked at 18% in the third quarter of 2013, but quickly began falling as the open enrollment period began dropping by to 15% in March and continuing to fall to what is now the lowest rate Gallup has found since it began tracking the data in January 2008.
The White House revealed last month that according to its data approximately 8 million Americans signed up for health insurance using the exchanges mandated by the Affordable Care Act. During the same week, the Congressional Budget Office released revised estimates on the potential costs of the law, lowering the expectations by billions of dollars.
The Gallup data shows that the biggest change in the uninsured rate came for African-Americans, who saw a 7.1 point plunge in their uninsured rate between the fourth quarter of 2013 and April 30, with the rate dropping from 20.9% to 13.8%. Hispanics already suffered from the worst uninsured rates in the country, but saw significant declines as well, with 38.7% to 33.2%, a 5.5 point decline.
Lower income Americans and the young also saw significant declines. Those with incomes under $36,000 annually saw their uninsured rates drop by 5.5 points as well, to 25.2%, over the same time period.
The uninsured rate among young Americans (those between 18 and 25 years old), another key demographic whose enrollment was deemed crucial to the success of the law, fell 4.5 points to 19% by April 30. The rate dropped even more for those between the ages of 35 and 64, going from 18% to 13.2$ between the fourth quarter of 2013 and the end of April. Seniors, who already enjoy what is by far the lowest uninsured rate in the country, saw a slight uptick over the time period, going from 2% to 2.2% uninsured.
Gallup notes in its report on the data that the uninsured rate could still continue to decline this year, especially if more states embrace the Medicaid expansion provision of the president's health reform law. Prior analysis has shown that states that have fully implemented these and other parts of the Affordable Care Act have seen steep declines in their uninsured rate. Texas currently has the highest uninsured rate of any state, with 27% lacking health insurance. According to one estimate as many as a million Texans could gain access to insurance if the state were to adopt the Medicaid expansion.