Uninsured rate falls one-fifth under ObamaCare

Uninsured rate falls one-fifth under ObamaCare
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The uninsured rate declined by nearly one-fifth to 16 percent of the population in the first year of ObamaCare’s coverage expansion, according to federal data released Tuesday. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Health Interview Survey found that the uninsured rate for adults under 65 dropped from 20.4 percent to 16.3 percent between 2013 and 2014. 

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That is the largest drop since the survey began in 1997, and comes after the rate has been fairly steady for the years before the Affordable Care Act’s coverage expansion took effect at the beginning of 2014. 

The survey comes on the heels of a Congressional Budget Office report that estimated that 19 million people would lose insurance in 2016 if the healthcare law were repealed. 

A major threat to the law’s coverage expansion looms with the Supreme Court case of King v. Burwell, which could invalidate subsidies that help 6.4 million people afford insurance in at least 34 states using the law’s federally run marketplaces. A decision is expected within a week. 

The survey notes that Medicaid expansion under ObamaCare also has a major effect on the uninsured rate. Twenty-nine states have accepted the expansion, but some Republican-led states have rejected it. 

The uninsured rate in states that expanded Medicaid fell from 18.4 percent to 13.3 percent last year. The drop was much smaller in non-expansion states, at 22.7 percent to 19.6 percent. 

While the uninsured rates remained higher, there were larger declines in the rates for black and Hispanic people than for white people. 

The uninsured rate for Hispanic people fell from 30.3 percent to 25.2 percent. For black people it fell from 18.9 percent to 13.5 percent, and for white people from 12.1 percent to 9.8 percent. 

Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell acknowledged in March that there is more work to be done on enrolling African-Americans and Hispanics, a focus of the sign-up effort that stretched through the Feb. 15 enrollment deadline.

Burwell said that, for those groups, the statistics are "not probably exactly where you want to be because the numbers are still high."

She noted that she hit the road to boost enrollment, including a stop at a largely black church in Texas, an ad buy on Hispanic media and messages on receipts at 7-Eleven stores. 

"We did a lot of things to highly target those communities," Burwell said. "I believe we can do more."

"We tried a lot of things," she added. "And now we have to analyze which ones work."