Survey: Rate of uninsured drops to lowest point in a year

The amount of people who lack health insurance has dropped to its lowest level in more than a year, according to a poll. 

According to the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index released Thursday, the U.S. uninsured rate has dropped to 16.1 percent — down from 17.3 percent in December. Gallup noted that number is slightly lower than any time since December 2012. 

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Rates for nonwhite Americans and the unemployed dropped by the sharpest amount in the last month. Unemployed Americans saw their rate cut by 6.7 percent in a month, while nonwhite Americans experienced a drop of 2.6 percent. 

The numbers come as individuals began to receive insurance through the ObamaCare health exchanges for the first time at the start of January. 

According to the Obama administration, 2.2 million people had signed up through the healthcare exchanges through the end of December. 

The Gallup poll, however, shows that young adults — a necessary constituency in the success of the exchanges — have experienced the slowest drop in their uninsured rate. Adults aged 18 to 34 have seen their uninsured rate drop only 0.2 percent. 

According to the administration, only 24 percent of ObamaCare enrollees through December were young people, short of the 40-percent benchmark.

The rate of uninsured remains highest with the unemployed, nonwhites, young adults and those making less than $36,000 a year. 

While the mandate for all individuals to purchase health insurance took effect earlier this year, people have until the end of March to sign up before facing a penalty. 

Gallup notes the uninsured rate has fluctuated in the past, so it is unclear how much the decline is associated with the healthcare law. 

“It is unclear if this small decline is a reflection of the provisions of the Affordable Care Act that took effect on Jan. 1, or if this is part of a trend based on other reasons,” the polling firm wrote.

The poll is based on more than 9,000 interviews throughout the month of January and contains a 1-percent margin of error.  

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