The uninsured rate among U.S. adults during the fourth quarter of 2014 averaged 12.9 percent, the lowest level since 2008 when Gallup started tracking the number of Americans lacking health insurance.
This is down slightly from 13.4 percent in the third quarter of 2014, and down significantly from 17.1 percent a year ago.
Gallup said Wednesday that the uninsured rate has fallen 4.2 percentage points since the Affordable Care Act’s requirement for Americans to have health insurance went into effect one year ago.
Meanwhile, the Obama administration reported Wednesday that almost 103,000 people signed up last week in the 37 states where the federal government is operating online “Obamacare” health insurance markets, bringing total enrollment for 2015 to 6.6 million in those states.
The uninsured rate declined sharply in the first and second quarters last year as more Americans signed up for health insurance through federal and state exchanges, Gallup reported.
After the open enrollment period closed in mid-April, the rate leveled off at around 13 percent. The 12.9 percent who lacked health insurance in the fourth quarter is the lowest Gallup and Healthways have recorded since beginning to track the measure daily in 2008. The 2015 open enrollment period began in the fourth quarter on Nov. 15 and will close on Feb. 15.
Obama’s health reform offers subsidized private insurance to those who don’t have coverage through their employers. Obamacare also offers expanded Medicaid coverage for low-income people.
While some of the gains among those insured are due to an improving economy, there is little doubt that the Affordable Care Act has had the biggest impact. Gary Claxton, of the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation, said “It’s hard to deny that the sharp reduction in the uninsured in 2014 was anything but the law.”