Survey: Uninsured Rate Nears Single Digits for First Time

by Joan McCarter –

One new survey suggests that the uninsured rate in the nation is now just 10 percent, and is in single digits in states that have expanded Medicaid. The Urban Institute has been conducting its Health Reform Monitoring Survey of non-elderly Americans every quarter since September 2013, when Obamacare was implemented. This quarter’s survey shows how dramatic the uninsured rate has dropped in less than two years, from 17.8 percent at the beginning, to 10.1 percent in March 2015.

That translates to 15 million people gaining insurance, and the uninsured rate dropping by 42.5 percent, nationally. In the states that accepted Medicaid, the uninsured rate has dropped 52.5 percent. That puts the uninsured rate in the expansion states at single digits—7.5 percent. The states that did not expand have seen the uninsured rate drop 30.6 percent, but still have more than 14 percent of their populations uninsured.

Line chart showing drop in uninsured rate in Medicaid expansion states, nationally, and in non-expansion states since Sept. 2013

attribution: Urban Institute


Among all the surveys that look at the effects of Obamacare, this one is showing the biggest percentage drop in the uninsured rate, though not the highest number of individuals gaining insurance. Forbes’ Dan Diamond has a good rundown on the other surveys and how they all differ.

For instance, Urban’s survey draws from an Internet panel of 55,000 participants. And researchers are up front about the limitations of their survey, which they say carries “more risks and potential errors than federal government surveys.” (Just looking at the methodology, I’d be concerned by the relatively low response rate of 5%.)A separate RAND longitudinal survey takes a different tack: It looks at how Obamacare changed insurance in America.

And while Urban’s survey suggests that 15 million people have gained health coverage since the ACA’s exchanges took effect, RAND’s own researchers put that number closer to 17 million people. […]

Meanwhile, Gallup’s survey—thought to be one of the most rigorous and consistent monitors of health insurance—found that the U.S. uninsured rate fell to 11.9% in the first quarter of 2015.

All the surveys conclude, though, that Obamacare has quickly succeeded in dramatically reducing the uninsured rate to the lowest levels on record. That’s a well-documented success that only the most craven Republicans can deny, which they will because they are Republicans. But that denial is setting them up for some serious hurt if the Supreme Court rules their way in a few weeks and strips premium subsidies away from millions of people. Because, despite all their assurances that they’ve got a secret plan ready to go, it’s obvious that their only plan right now is praying that the Supreme Court doesn’t hand this mess to them. Because they got nothin’.


Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos