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Uninsured rate for adults drops 40% since 2013

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Aided by health care reform law provisions that took effect at the beginning of 2014, the percentage of uninsured nonelderly adults has fallen by more than 40%, according to a new analysis.

In September 2013, 17.6% of adults between ages 18 through 64 were uninsured. As of March 2015, the uninsured rate had plunged to 10.1%, a 42% drop, with the number of uninsured falling by 15 million people, according to the Urban Institute analysis conducted for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

According to the report, that drop in the uninsured rate was due to Affordable Care Act provisions, effective Jan. 1, 2014, that extended premium subsidies to lower-income individuals to purchase coverage in public exchanges and gave states the option to make more people eligible for Medicaid, with the federal government picking up most of the expansion cost.

The impact of the Medicaid expansion, under which states can extend coverage to individuals earning up to 138% of the federal poverty level, which comes out to $33,465 for a family of four, in reducing uninsured rates is especially striking.

For example, in states that opted to expand Medicaid eligibility, the uninsured rate for adults fell to 7.5% in March, a more than 50% decline compared with an uninsured rate of 15.8% in September 2013.

By contrast, in states that did not expand Medicaid, the uninsured rate during the same period fell by just over 30%, declining to 14.4% from 20.7%.

“States that have yet to expand Medicaid should take a peek at their neighbors' coverage gains to see what a difference expansion has made,” Kathy Hempstead, who directs coverage issues at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation in Princeton, New Jersey, said Thursday in a statement.