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Uninsured rate drops again

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The percentage of Americans who said they had some kind of health coverage was even higher in the fourth quarter of 2014 than it was three months earlier.

Jenna Levy, an analyst at Gallup, has presented data supporting that conclusion in a summary of results from 43,000 interviews with U.S. adults 18 and older conducted from Oct. 1 through Dec. 30, and from similar interviews conducted during the third quarter of 2014 and the fourth quarter of 2013.

See also: PPACA open enrollment 2015: Popcorn time

Only 12.9 percent of the people polled in the fourth quarter of 2014 were uninsured. That was down from 13.4 percent in the third quarter, and down from 17.1 percent in the comparable quarter in 2013.

The percentage who had some kind of coverage increased to 87.1 percent, up from 86.6 percent in the previous quarter and from 82.9 percent in the year-earlier quarter.

The uninsured rate dropped for the kinds of high-income who often buy insurance from health insurance agents and brokers as well as for lower-income consumers. The uninsured rate for survey participants with an annual income of $90,000 or higher fell to 3.4 percent, from 5.8 percent in the third quarter.

That 2.4 percentage-point drop means the actual number of high-income uninsured adults may have fallen about 41 percent between the third quarter of 2014 and the fourth quarter of 2014.

See also: Survey: Higher-income consumers less happy with PPACA plans

Gallup did not break out the uninsured rate responses by income when it published the data for the fourth quarter of 2013.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) exchange system started providing individual health coverage in Jan. 1, 2014, and PPACA began to impose a requirement that many individuals have a minimum level of major medical coverage or else pay a “shared responsibility” penalty in 2014.

PPACA also provided cash that states could use to expand access to Medicaid programs.

The second annual PPACA open enrollment period for individual coverage started Nov. 15 and is set to end Feb. 15.

PPACA critics have suggested that the new PPACA coverage programs could crowd out traditional private coverage, and the Gallup survey results show some signs of crowd out.

The percentage of participants ages 18 to 64 who reported having employer-sponsored coverage fell to 43.4 percent in the latest quarter, from 44.2 percent a year earlier.

The percentage who reported having Medicaid or Medicare increased to 16.1 percent, from 13 percent.

Gallup did not distinguish between off-exchange individual private health coverage and PPACA exchange individual private health coverage. Overall use of individual private coverage of all kinds increased to 20.6 percent, from 17.6 percent, according to the Gallup survey results.