Apr. 7—The rate of uninsured people nationally dropped to 15 percent in March and reached its lowest level since 2008, according to Gallup.

The polling firm's surveys found the lowest rate of uninsured since the third quarter of 2008 occurred in March. The rate's recent decline, which followed an all-time high of 18 percent in the third quarter of 2013, was credited to provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

The decline in the rate of uninsured in recent months coincided with the launch of the ACA's individual insurance marketplaces and an expansion of Medicaid eligibility in half of the states. According to Gallup, those provisions may provide continuing downward pressure on the rate, which continued to fall to 14.7 percent in the second half of March.

Some Struggles with Sign Ups Observed

The Gallup data confirmed the Obama administration's finding that only about 25 percent of so-called young invincibles have obtained coverage recently. The administration has said the ACA marketplaces require enrollments by young adults to comprise about 40 percent of all sign ups to ensure their viability.

The administration's struggles to enroll Hispanics—the racial group with the highest uninsured rates—was shown through Gallup's finding of little reduction among that group. Hispanics' uninsured rates dropped 1.7 percent, compared to a 3.3 percent reduction among African Americans.

"The Obama administration also announced that Americans unable to sign up by March 31 could request an extension through April 15, which could further drive down the uninsured rate in the second quarter of 2014," according to a statement from Gallup. "Additionally, other provisions of the healthcare law have not yet gone into effect, such as the requirement for employers to provide health insurance to their employees by 2015. These provisions also may affect the uninsured rate over time."

The Gallup poll followed the administration's report last week that through February enrollments in Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program have increased by 3 million to 62 million—largely due to the ACA eligibility expansions.

However, some bursts in Medicaid growth have come outside of the ACA’s eligibility expansion. States that expanded eligibility had 2.6 million more beneficiaries enrolled by the end of February, while non-expansion states had 3 million more enrollees by then. The newly enrolled in non-expansion states qualified under their unchanged Medicaid eligibility standards.

Publication Date: Monday, April 07, 2014