More Americans Have Health Insurance (Whether They Want it or Not)

Brianna Ehley

The latest Gallup survey shows the rate of American adults without health insurance dipped to an all-time-low of 11.9 percent in the first quarter of this year, down from 12.9 percent at the end of 2014 and 18 percent in mid-2013. That means nearly nine in 10 adults now say they have health coverage, which Gallup attributes primarily to provisions in the Affordable Care Act.

So far, the White House estimates that more than 16 million people have gained health coverage through Obamacare.

Related: Obamacare Goes to Court as Uninsured Rate Hits New Low

Gallup notes that the uninsured rate is likely to continue trending downward this year as more people sign up for coverage during the special enrollment period, which ends on April 30. The administration granted extra time to people who were unaware of the law’s individual mandate requiring everyone to have health coverage or be subject to a tax penalty.

The pollsters noted that there are, of course, other factors that have helped lower the percentage of uninsured people in the U.S., including the improving economy and a falling unemployment rate. Even so, they suggested that Obamacare played the largest role: “The uninsured rate is significantly lower than it was in early 2008, before the depths of the economic recession, suggesting that the recent decline is due to more than just an improving economy.”

Related: Poll Shows Why Obamacare Ruling Could Be Devastating

The poll of 43,575 adults over the first three months of the year suggests that the health care reform law is succeeding in its primary goal of expanding access to coverage, though questions remain about just how affordable that care is — and whether the law will be undone by a Supreme Court ruling, scheduled to be announced in June in the case of King v Burwell. The high court’s interpretation of language in one sentence of the Affordable Care Act will determine whether roughly 8 million people will lose health insurance subsidies. Read about the case here. 

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