The uninsured rate is 13.4 percent for the second month in a row, after dropping from 17.1 percent at the end of 2013, according to new Gallup data. In other words, the uninsured rate is 22 percent lower now than it was before Obamacare. Skeptics have argued that most Obamacare enrollments are people with cancelled plans, but it's hard to ignore the fact that an estimated 11 million people gained insurance during a nationwide push to enroll people. At the very least, Obamacare helped.
The decline was steepest among blacks (6.2 percentage points down), Hispanics (5.6 percentage points) and people making less than $36,000 (6 percentage points). But the limitations of the health care law's expansion are evident in those numbers, too. Thirty-three percent of Hispanics are still uninsured, compared to 14.7 percent of blacks and 8.9 percent of whites. People making under $36,000 are also still three to eight times more likely to be uninsured than their wealthier counterparts, which may have something to do with limited expansion of Medicaid.
As we explained in April, reports have shown that Medicaid is the biggest factor in lowering the uninsured rate. On Wednesday new data showed that Medicaid has 6 million more enrollees now than it did in October 2013. And while some of those enrollments were from people who were always eligible for Medicaid, states that expanded Medicaid saw a 15 percent increase in enrollment, according to Politico. States that didn't expand only saw a 3 percent increase.
The question now is whether that 13.4 percent drop will go down, go up, or stay the same throughout June. The open enrollment period is over, which means only people with special life circumstances (like a pregnancy) will be able to enroll in plans, and there will be less publicity for Medicaid. People also might stop paying for insurance. Gallup notes that "without strong efforts to maintain retention, some newly insured Americans may not continue to pay for their insurance on an ongoing basis, thus potentially causing the uninsured rate to rise over time." Obamacare can't take all the credit for the drop in the uninsured rate, but it will definitely receive the blame if the raise increases.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.