Jenna Levy: Snapshot: U.S. Uninsured Rate Edging Down In First Quarter
The open enrollment period for Americans to purchase a healthcare plan for 2015 through the Health Insurance Marketplace ended Feb. 15, but this deadline was extended to Feb. 22 — and even longer for some applicants. Many states extended their enrollment deadlines even longer, and this report would not fully reflect those who obtained health insurance right before the deadline. The uninsured rate for the first two months of the year is down 0.6 percentage points from the fourth quarter of 2014. Gallup and Healthways will publish the results for the entire first quarter in early April, and if the downward momentum continues, the drop in the uninsured rate may be slightly larger than this preliminary figure.
The uninsured rate could decline further in the first quarter if the rate in March — when more interviews will be completed after most enrollment deadlines have passed — remains steady or drops even lower. The Obama Administration will also re-open the exchanges from March 15 to April 30 for a special enrollment period aimed at getting those who realize, while paying their taxes, that they must pay a fine for not obtaining healthcare coverage in 2014. This could also drive down the uninsured rate through May. Additionally, Medicaid enrollment is not bound by the open enrollment period, which could allow more uninsured to sign up this month — and throughout the year if more states choose to expand Medicaid. So far, Arkansas and Kentucky have seen the most improvement in uninsured rates as a result of expanding Medicaid and using state-run marketplaces.
The number of uninsured Americans continues to drop within the first two months of 2015: ofa.bo/f3Oz—
Barack Obama (@BarackObama) March 05, 2015