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Uninsured Rate Fell by One-Third Since 2013, CDC Says

By Melanie Zanona, CQ Roll Call

August 12, 2015 -- Mounting evidence suggests that more people are benefiting from the 2010 health care law, with the number of Americans without medical coverage declining by one-third, or 15.8 million people, since 2013, according to the latest report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The number of people without health insurance dropped from 36 million last year to 29 million between January and March 2015, the CDC said Wednesday. The data is based on a National Health Interview Survey of 26,121 people from the first quarter of this year.

Meanwhile, the CDC said some of the most significant coverage gains since 2013 were found among low-income people and Hispanics.

The data comes on the heels of a Gallup Inc. report released earlier this week that found about 11.7 percent of people in the United States did not have health coverage in the first half of 2015. That's down from about 18 percent of residents at the start of 2014, when the Affordable Care Act's major coverage expansions took effect.

Democrats are likely to tout the data as a sign that the health care overhaul is working as Republicans attempt to use budget reconciliation and other legislative vehicles to gut the law.

"Since the Affordable Care Act began to take effect, the uninsured rate has dropped by about one-third, and almost every American has benefited from improved protections no matter where or how they bought health insurance," said Health and Human Services spokesman Ben Wakana. "Women can no longer be charged more than men, people with preexisting conditions cannot be denied coverage, and young adults up to 26 years of age can be insured on their parents' policies. The price of health care has risen at the slowest rate in 50 years, and the American people want us to build on the progress we have made."

The Supreme Court delivered President Barack Obama a legal victory this summer when it ruled federal subsidies for health insurance should be available in all states, regardless of whether they set up their own marketplaces. But Republicans use the law as a rallying cry to generate enthusiasm among their core supporters.

The CDC data also found that among adults aged 18–64, the number of uninsured decreased from 16.3 percent in 2014 to 13 percent in the first three months of 2015. The percentage of children with private coverage increased from 52.6 percent in 2013 to 56.3 percent in the first quarter of 2015, reversing a 14-year trend of declining rates of private coverage, the report notes.


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