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Number of Uninsured Americans at all Time Low

The concept behind the Affordable Care Act was a simple one: create a healthcare system that provided health coverage to every person no matter their medical history, financial position and geographic location. Eventually and ideally, if the letter of the Obamacare law is carried out to the fullest, the percentage of people who are uninsured in the United States would be zero.

A recent Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index poll reported on July 10, 2014 that the rate of uninsured Americans has fallen to 13.4%, which is a decrease of 2.2% from the first quarter of 2014.

The Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index has been surveying and tracking the uninsured rates in America since 2008 and the second quarter of 2014, which spans April to June 2014, was the lowest ever recorded.

The second lowest percentage point of uninsured Americans since the rates first began being tracked was during the third quarter of 2008.

The Gallup poll credits the Affordable Care Act as the reason why the uninsured rate in the U.S. has decreased so drastically. With the 2015 open enrollment period quickly approaching, it is reasonable and very likely that the number of uninsured Americans at this time next year could at least give the unemployment rate a run for its money.

In April, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) reported that more than 8 million people signed up for healthcare through Obamacare by the deadline on March 31, 2014 (April 15, 2014 for those people who had started an application for insurance on the federal Marketplace but who were unable to complete enrollment due to technical issues). We can guess that most of those sign ups occurred later on in the enrollment season and comparing the percentage of uninsured Americans from the fourth quarter of 2013 to the second quarter of 2014 only substantiates this hypothesis.

According to the Gallup poll, the percentage of uninsured Americans during the fourth quarter of 2013, which spans October 2013 to December 2013 was 17.1%. In a mere six months time, that number decreased to 13.4%, which is really rather astonishing.

Examining the rate of insured Americans by age group, the poll found that each age group demographic under 65-years-old saw a pretty significant drop between the third quarter of 2013 and the second quarter of 2014. For instance, the 18-25 year old demographic was at approximately 25% uninsured during the final quarter of 2013, but that number dropped to approximately 18.7% in the second quarter of 2014. The 26-34 year old demographic was at 30.2% uninsured during the last quarter of 2013 and dropped to 23.9% during Q2 of 2014. Q4 of 2013 for the 35-64 year old demographic was at 18.2% uninsured, which dropped to 13.4% during Q2 of 2014.

Another interesting discovery made by the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index poll found that approximately 43.5% of 18-64 year olds were likely to have health coverage through their current or previous employers. Although this statistic may not be that shocking considering that this is the age group of people who are still in the workforce, what is interesting is that more people opted to purchase health coverage through a private health insurance company after the Obamacare mandates went into effect than before. Presumably, this increased amount of people opting to pay out-of-pocket for health coverage ate into the decreasing percentage of people who are now uninsured in the U.S.

The Affordable Care Act attempted to require all states to expand the eligibility requirements for Medicaid from those who made below 100% of the Federal Poverty Level, which amounts to approximately $11,490 a year, to allowing those who made under 133% of the Federal Poverty Level, which amounts to $16,105 a year, to receive coverage under Medicaid. Unfortunately, this provision of the Affordable Health Care Act was found unconstitutional in a decision made by the Supreme Court in June 23, 2012; however there were a number of states who chose to adopt the expanded eligibility requirements, which may account for the Gallup poll’s results that indicated that Medicaid enrollment increased from 6.8% prior to the 2014 Open Enrollment season to 8.4% at the close of the second quarter in 2014.

The poll also reports that the percentage of people who were insured by employers from the period of time right before the 2014 open enrollment period commenced (August to September 2013) until the second quarter of 2014 actually decreased slightly from 44.4% to 43.5%. The reason for this drop could be various things such as people became eligible for Medicare (see the next paragraph for those statistics based on the Gallup poll), companies chose not to insure their employees, people became unemployed or people changed their employment from full-time to part-time. Considering the fact that unemployment rate dropped in September 2013 from 7.20% to 6.10% in June 2014, it seems unlikely that the cause for the drop in Americans insured by their employers is due to their unemployment.

The last category of statistics gathered and published by the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index regarded Medicare sign-ups. The quarter before the first Obamacare open enrollment period found that approximately 6.4% had insurance through either original Medicare or Medicare Advantage plans. This number increased originally dipped slightly during the fourth quarter of 2013 and the first quarter of 2014 but ultimately rested at 6.9% during the second quarter of 2014.

To create this Gallup poll, surveyors interviewed more than 45,000 adults across the United States during the period of time of April 1 to June 30, which is the second quarter of 2014.