Despite a rollout fraught with ideological warfare and technological glitches, President Barack Obama's signature legislation, the Affordable Care Act, appears to have struck a chord with Americans, with the rate of uninsured citizens falling.
Released on Monday, a recent Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index found that just 15.9 percent of Americans remain uninsured this quarter. Compared to the figures from the tail end of 2013, that's a 1.2 percent drop across the board in all key demographics, equating to around 2.5 million Americans (accounting for a one percent margin of error in survey results).
The enrollment of more than 4 million people can be attributed to the implementation of Obamacare, with those signing up going through the newly-established Obamacare portals. "The uninsured rate continues to decline after the requirement to have health insurance went into effect on Jan. 1, 2014," Gallup-Healthways researchers wrote. "This drop could be a result of the ACA, which aims to provide healthcare coverage to more Americans through multiple provisions, including federal and state healthcare marketplaces where Americans can purchase health insurance coverage at competitive rates."
Gallup-Healthways interviewed more than 28,000 people, with findings optimistic in most demographics. Lower-income Americans (with an annual total income less than $36,000 per household) were found to have the most substantial drop in uninsured rates, pointing to the relative accessibility of the Affordable Care Act. A notable drop in uninsured black Americans also registered, falling by 2.6 percent to 18. 3 percent. Under-65s also benefited, with uninsured 18-25 year-olds at 23 percent (down from 23.5 percent), 26-34 year-olds plummeting to 26.6 percent from 28.2 percent and 35-64 year-olds down to 16.3 percent.
However, some missteps remain. With young adults accounting for 25 percent of exchange registrations, the number is not as significant as the White House had initially hoped - with healthcare officials hoping for a figure closer to the 40 percent ballpark. Further, the Hispanic demographic, while still experiencing a drop in uninsured rates, are still lagging overall on signups, with 37.9 percent still yet to purchase coverage.
Employers also appear to be failing to offer coverage to the same extent as prior years, with the end of 2013 seeing 43.4 percent of people insured under an employer's plan as opposed to the earlier 45.5 percent. Despite this drop, however, more people are reporting having purchased their own plan, or falling under that of a family member's: 18.1 percent from 17.2 percent.
With the deadline for enrolment fast approaching, those who remain uninsured are urged to purchase coverage by March 31, or risk incurring a fine.