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Julia Brown is a Content Specialist for Managed Healthcare Executive.
Lowest rate achieved since 2008
The national uninsured rate for U.S. adults has reached a record low and is holding steady, according to new data from the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index.
So far in the second quarter of 2014, the uninsured rate is resting at 13.4%-the lowest level recorded by Gallup since 2008. The uninsured rates for both April and May as individual months also average out to 13.4%. This is an improvement upon the uninsured rate in the fourth quarter of 2013, and the first quarter of 2014, which were 17.1% and 15.6%, respectively.
The uninsured rate seems to be leveling off since the open enrollment period came to a close in mid-April. The Obama administration extended the original March 31 deadline for those who had begun the enrollment process but had not completed it.
"I don't believe many people will drop coverage since they elected to purchase it initially," says Don Hall, principal of DeltaSigma LLC, a consulting practice specializing in Medicaid and Medicare Special Needs Plans. "Additional impacts on reducing the uninsured rate could come from an uptick in hiring and bringing some of the currently uninsured into employer health plans."
Medicaid expansion has also played its part in boosting insured individuals. One in five Americans are now covered by Medicaid, or about 65 million people. According to new federal data, enrollment is up 15% in states that expanded under Medicaid.
"I would expect to see further reductions if the states that opted out of the Medicaid expansion find ways to opt in," says Hall. "If Texas and Florida joined it could have a huge impact on reducing the rate, which is sadly why they won't do it. The tools to have a dramatic impact on giving access to care to millions more low-income Americans-including many veterans-rests in the hands of state legislators."