Uninsured rate drops to 11.9 percent

The uninsured rate among Americans hit an all-time low of 11.9 percent for the first quarter of 2015, according to a recent Gallup poll. The rate was 12.9 percent in the fourth quarter of 2014 and is down 5.2 percentage points since just prior to implementation of the Affordable Care Act in 2013.

While an improved economy and a falling unemployment rate may have contributed to the recent drop, Gallup noted that the uninsured rate is lower than it was in 2008 at 14 percent--the time just before the economic recession--suggesting this recent rate drop stems from more than just an improved economy.

Here are some other notable findings, according to the poll:

  • During the first open enrollment period, the uninsured rate fell 1.5 percentage points from 17.1 percent for the fourth quarter of 2013 to 15.6 percent for the first quarter of 2014. The uninsured rate in same time frame this year, fell from 12.9 percent to 11.9 percent.
  • Since 2013, the uninsured rate has dropped 8.7 percentage points among individuals earning less than $36,000 in annual household income.
  • The uninsured rate among Hispanics dropped 8.3 percentage points from the fourth quarter of 2013 to the first quarter of 2015. While this decline is noteworthy, increasing insurance coverage in the Hispanic population continues to be a challenge.
  • The uninsured rate among 18 to 64 year olds dropped from 20.8 percent at the end of 2013 to 14.5 percent in the first quarter of 2015. This plunge is a result of individuals gaining coverage through self-funded plans as well as Medicaid expansion.

Since the healthcare reform law went into effect, about 16.4 million Americans have gained health insurance coverage by enrolling through the insurance exchanges or by remaining on their parents' plans until they turn 26, FierceHealthPayer previously reported. 

"The Affordable Care Act had three major objectives: increase coverage, slow the rate of increase in costs, and improve health," Dan Witters, research director for the poll, told the New York Times. "The first one is clearly a win. Coverage is increasing; there is no question about it."

For more:
- here's the Gallup poll
- check out the New York Times article