Data from the CDC's latest National Health Interview Survey indicated the overall U.S. uninsured rate dipped to 8.6% (27.3 million), a decrease of 0.5 percentage points from 2015's rate of 9.1% (28.6 million).
The continued, yet increasingly slow, reduction to the uninsured rate is both heralded by supporters of the Affordable Care Act for getting about 21.3 million more people covered since 2010, while simultaneously being criticized by opponents for drawing less than half the number of marketplace enrollees originally projected to have signed up by 2016--about 11.1 million instead of 24 million.
Even with CMS working to bolster upcoming enrollment efforts, experts have suggested that the ACA, at least as it currently exists, is nearing its limits.
The future of the ACA will partially rest upon whether it can continue to draw more enrollees, particularly young adults, and improve the risk pool in doing so. That could help to stabilize the markets that have been floundering as insurers either hike their rates or exit over the unsustainable expense of their enrollees.
During the survey's study period, adults aged 25–34 were nearly twice as likely as those aged 45–64 to lack health coverage, at 15.9% vs. 8.1%. Adults in the ranges of 18–24 and 35–44 also had higher rates of uninsurance than the older age group, at 13.7% and 14.3%.
CMS previously announced new strategies to enroll more young adults in an effort to help stabilize the risk pool. Young adults are sometimes healthier than older consumers and the agency says the vast majority of them paid the individual responsibility penalty for being uninsured last year. Yet adults who are younger and healthier continue to be "more likely than average to remain uninsured," according to CMS.
Another notable finding of the survey was the impact of state Medicaid expansion. It found adults in expansion states are less likely to be uninsured, noting those states went from a rate of 18.4% in 2013 to 9.2% in the first three months of 2016 while non-expansion states went from 22.7% in 2013 to 16.7% during the same time period.
On a related note, the survey found adults in states with a federally facilitated marketplace more likely to be uninsured than those in states operating a state-based marketplace or a partnership marketplace. This indicates another way in which states' support (or lack thereof) for the ACA has impacted their uninsurance rates.