(Bloomberg) The share of people without health insurance in the U.S. fell to 10.4 percent last year as the Affordable Care Act’s expansion of public and private coverage programs took effect, the Census Bureau said Wednesday.
In 2014, 33 million people in the U.S. were uninsured, down from 41.8 million in 2013, according to the Census report. While other reports have shown a similar decline in the number of uninsured Americans and include more recent enrollment for 2015, the Census data is considered the gold standard.
Last year was the first that people began enrolling in health coverage on the ACA’s marketplaces. The law subsidized the purchase of health insurance for some people, and expanded Medicaid to help cover the poor. It also established a tax penalty for those who refused to buy coverage.
The uninsured rate has continued to fall since the first year of the new markets and Medicaid expansion, according to reports using more recent data. The Obama administration said in May of this year that about 16.4 million people have gained coverage under the Affordable Care Act, a figure that includes sign-ups for coverage this year.
The majority of Americans don’t rely on public programs, and instead buy private coverage either through work or, increasingly, on the exchanges. The Census report showed that the share of people enrolled in private health insurance last year increased to 66% in 2014, up from 64.1% a year before.
Enrollment in government-sponsored health plans rose as well, to 36.5% from 34.6% of the population a year before, boosted by the Affordable Care Act’s provisions to expand Medicaid to more people at higher income levels.
Changes to the Census Bureau’s survey methodology in 2013 make it difficult to compare with prior years. However, data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention appear to show a steady decline in the number of Americans without health insurance from 2010 to 2014, thanks to ACA coverage programs and the improving economy.
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