The uninsured rate among US adults continues to decline, currently standing at 11.9% for the first quarter of 2015. The rate is 1 percentage point lower than the fourth quarter in 2014 and is 5.2 points lower than 2013, when the Affordable Care Act went into effect. It’s also the lowest since 2008.
The percentage of uninsured Americans peaked in 2013 at 18% of adults and has dropped sharply since the most significant change to the U.S. healthcare system in the Affordable Care Act – the individual mandate – went into effect in 2014. Experts also point to an improving economy and an improved unemployment rate as having 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.
While the rate declined across a broad swath of demographic groups, more importantly, the uninsured rate dropped the most for lower-income Americans and for Hispanics – two groups with traditionally low rates of insurance. The uninsured rate among Americans earning less than $36,000 annually dropped 8.7 points since the end of 2013, while the rate among Hispanics fell 8.3 points. The significant drop in uninsured Hispanics is a key accomplishment for the Obama administration, which led targeted efforts to insure this group as they had the highest uninsured population of all key subgroups. However, despite the gains in insurance coverage among Hispanics and lower-income Americans, these groups still have higher uninsured rates than other key subgroups.
Americans aged 26 to 34 have also seen gains in coverage since the healthcare law went into effect — the uninsured rate among this group is down 7.4 points since the end of 2013, the largest drop among any age group. Blacks have also seen a substantial drop in their uninsured rate since the fourth quarter of 2013 at 7.3 points.