How low can this go?
The percentage of people without health insurance in the United States has reached a record low number as Obamacare programs continue signing up new enrollees.
During the last quarter of 2014, an average of 12.9 percent of adults lacked health-care coverage, according to data released Wednesday by Gallup.
That was a drop from an average of 13.4 percent during the prior quarter—and represents a 4.2 percentage-point drop in the year since Obamacare exchanges began selling private insurance plans, according to Gallup. The current level is the lowest since Gallup began tracking the number of uninsured through continuous surveys in 2008.
The drop has been most pronounced among black Americans and lower-income adults, the research organization said. Blacks have seen a 7 percentage-point decrease in their uninsured rate, while there has been a 6.9 percentage-point plunge in the rate among people earning less than $36,000, Gallup said.
And while Hispanics remain the ethnic group with the highest rate of people without insurance—at 32.4 percent—they have seen a 6.3 percentage-point reduction in that rate since the end of 2013. The steepest decline in the uninsured rate came in the first half of 2014, in the months leading up to a mid-April deadline for signing up for private insurance coverage.
While the launch of the government-run health exchanges in late 2013 is responsible for some of the decreases in the uninsured rate—about 6.7 million paying customers have enrolled as of last fall—another big reason for the continued drop has been the expansion of Medicaid eligibility in more than half the country.
Currently, 27 states and the District of Columbia have adopted the Obamacare program of allowing nearly all poor adults to enroll in Medicaid, the government-funded health coverage program. The remaining states have much tighter restrictions. However, a number of other states are actively considering expanding Medicaid eligibility, which would bring down the uninsured rate even further.