Gallup: Obamacare reduces uninsured rate to 5-year low

The last time the percentage of Americans without health insurance was this low, George W. Bush was president

Published April 7, 2014 5:00PM (EDT)

After hitting an all-time high of 18 percent in 2013, Gallup reports that the U.S. percentage of Americans who do not have health insurance has dipped to its lowest level since 2008. And according to the venerable polling firm, it's Obamacare that's to thank (or, depending on your politics, blame).

Gallup found that uninsured rates dipped across all age groups but fell most dramatically among the poor and African Americans. "The uninsured rate for lower-income Americans dropped 3.2 points to 27.5% -- the largest decline within any key subgroup...," Gallup writes, "while the uninsured rate for blacks fell 3.3 points to 17.6%." Gallup still found Latino Americans as the most likely group to lack health insurance, but among this population the uninsured rate dropped by nearly 2 percent during the first quarter of 2014.

Here's the chart Gallup includes in its original post to reflect the uninsured rate's change:

And here's Gallup's explanation of the role Obamacare's Medicaid expansion is probably playing in this drop:

Moreover, Medicaid has likely added millions to its enrollment due to its expansion, although -- as with the exchanges themselves -- it remains unclear how many were previously insured and moved to Medicaid as a less expensive option. Regardless, the decline in the percentage of uninsured over the course of the first quarter almost certainly includes the effects of expanded Medicaid eligibility policies. It is also likely, in turn, that not all new enrollees will ultimately pay their insurance premiums, which would result in a subsequent change in status from insured to uninsured at some point later in 2014.

By Elias Isquith

Elias Isquith is a former Salon staff writer.

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Affordable Care Act Barack Obama Gallup Health Insurance Medicaid Obamacare