Uninsured Rates Fall As Healthcare Law Rolls Out

Pollsters say Obamacare not necessarily responsible for modest decline

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Andrew Harrer / Bloomberg via Getty Images

The Healthcare.gov website is displayed on a laptop computer arranged for a photograph in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Thursday, Oct. 24, 2013

The rate of uninsured people in the U.S. has modestly declined since December, but pollsters said it was unclear whether the President’s new healthcare law was responsible.

A new Gallup poll says the uninsured rate is at 16.1% so far in January 2014, down from 17.3% in December. A total of 2.1 million Americans enrolled in plans through Obamacare’s new insurance exchanges as of Dec. 28, far less than the White House had hoped would sign up. According to Gallup, the uninsured rate dropped most among the unemployed and nonwhites.

But uninsured rates have not declined significantly among 18 to 34-year-olds, according to the poll. The success of the Affordable Care Act rests, in part, on Americans in this demographic buying private insurance on the exchanges. If the proportion of young health adults signing up for coverage is not high enough, insurance rates could increase as less healthy, older Americans skew the insurance risk pool. The preliminary results of the Gallup poll show that younger Americans are still more likely than older ones to be uninsured.

Gallup noted the uninsured rate has fluctuated at other points over the past several years, so the modest gains cannot necessarily be attributed to the Affordable Care Act.