Number of uninsured hits five-year low

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The percentage of uninsured people in the United States has fallen to a five-year low, according to a Gallup survey released on Wednesday.

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About 16 percent of adults are uninsured, according to the report. That’s down from the multi-year high of 18 percent in 2013, and from 17.1 in the previous survey quarter.

The uninsured rate is on pace to end the first quarter at its lowest point since President Obama came into office.

The administration says more than 3 million people have selected a plan through the federal and state healthcare exchanges since Oct. 1. Millions more have obtained coverage under the law’s Medicaid expansion.

According to Gallup, the number of those receiving coverage through Medicaid is at 7.4 percent, up from 6.6 last quarter. In addition, fewer people, 43.5 percent, are reliant on their employers for healthcare coverage. That’s down from 45.5 last quarter.

But perhaps the best news for the administration is that the uninsured rate for 26- to 34-year-olds is declining faster than any other. The rate for uninsured young adults is at 25.7 so far this quarter, down from a multi-year high of 30.2 last quarter.

Last month, the administration announced that 24 percent of ObamaCare’s enrollees are young people, well below the 40 percent benchmark set by the administration for the critical 18- to 34-year-old age group.

Older people, who are typically more expensive to cover, made up the single largest group of ObamaCare enrollees. To keep premiums affordable, experts say it is vital that the law attract about as many young and healthy “invincibles” unlikely to need critical care to balance out older and sicker uninsured people who enroll and will be more costly to the system.

Still, Gallup warned it was too early to attribute the drop in the uninsured to ObamaCare.

The firm said that a similarly precipitous drop occurred in 2012 before spiking again in 2013, suggesting that “there may be inherent variability in the rate.”

“It remains unclear if this decline is an effect of the Affordable Care Act, or if the percentage who lack health insurance coverage is decreasing for other reasons,” Gallup said.

The Gallup survey of more than 19,000 adults was conducted between Jan. 2 and Feb. 10.