The Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) continues to fuel political debates and court actions, but there seems to be one undeniable impact — healthcare reform has helped significantly reduce the percentage of Americans without health insurance.
The latest measure comes from the new Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index survey, which found that the uninsured rate among U.S. adults declined to 11.9 percent for the first quarter of 2015 — down one percentage point from the previous quarter and 5.2 points since the end of 2013, just before the Affordable Care Act (ACA) went into effect.
The uninsured rate is the lowest since Gallup and Healthways began tracking it in 2008.
The percentage of uninsured Americans climbed from the 14 percent range in early 2008 to over 17 percent in 2011, and peaked at 18.0 percent in the third quarter of 2013.
“The uninsured rate has dropped sharply since the most significant change to the U.S. healthcare system in the Affordable Care Act — the provision requiring most Americans to carry health insurance — took effect at the beginning of 2014,” writes Jenna Levy for Gallup.com.
She added that an improving economy and a healthier jobs market may also have accelerated the steep drop in the percentage of uninsured over the past year.
However, the uninsured rate is significantly lower than it was in early 2008, “before the depths of the economic recession, suggesting that the recent decline is due to more than just an improving economy,” she writes.
The uninsured rate decreased at a slightly slower pace following the second open enrollment period of the Obamacare’s federal exchanges, compared with the first.
After the first enrollment around, the uninsured rate fell 1.5 points to 15.6 percent for the first quarter of 2014, from 17.1 percent for the fourth quarter of 2013. Comparatively, in that same time frame this year, the uninsured rate fell one point — from 12.9 percent to 11.9 percent.
The uninsured rate has declined across all key demographic groups since the ACA/Obamacare fully took effect in January 2014. But it has dropped most among lower-income Americans and Hispanics, which are the groups most likely to lack insurance.
These results are based on more than 43,500 interviews conducted from Jan. 2 to March 31, 2015, as part of the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index.