News & Politics

More Proof Obamacare is Working: Uninsured Rate Drops

Every fraction of a percent that the uninsured rate drops is a political problem for Republicans and they know it.

Photo Credit: PathDoc/

Two months after Americans started getting health coverage under Obamacare's exchanges, it's working. The uninsured rate is dropping, the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index shows. In the fourth quarter of 2013, 17.1 percent of Americans did not have health insurance. So far in 2014, that number has dropped to 15.9 percent.

The biggest drops in the uninsured rate—or gains in the insured rate—came among lower-income and black people. In late 2013, 30.7 percent of people earning less than $36,000 a year were uninsured; now, 27.9 percent are uninsured, a drop of 2.8 percentage points. The uninsured rate declined a similar 2.6 percentage points among black people. Latinos lag, with their uninsured rate having dropped just 0.8 points, a disappointment, and one perhaps linked to the troubled rollout of the exchanges:

With the highest uninsured rate of any racial or ethnic group, Latinos were expected to be major beneficiaries of the new health care law. They are a relatively young population and many are on the lower rungs of the middle class, holding down jobs that don't come with health insurance.

But the outreach effort to Hispanics got off to a stumbling start. The Spanish-language enrollment website,, was delayed due to technical problems. Its name sounds like a clunky translation from English: "Care of Health." A spot check of the Spanish site on Sunday showed parts of it still use a mix of Spanish and English to convey information, which can make insurance details even more confusing.

Every fraction of a percent that the uninsured rate drops is a political problem for Republicans and they know it, no matter how many so-called Obamacare horror stories they trot out, only to have them debunked. The Republican response to this survey may be to celebrate that the biggest drops in the uninsured rate have come among low-income people and black people—groups they've long ignored—but in their partisan world, where repealing President Barack Obama's signature achievement and defeating Democrats are more important than the well-being of non-wealthy Americans, such a noticeable and immediate drop in the uninsured rate is not good news. For the rest of us, and especially for people who can now go to the doctor without fear of bankruptcy, it's very good news.