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Almost 15% of Americans Still Uninsured: Report

Experts note numbers of uninsured should drop as final phase of 'Obamacare' is rolled out

WebMD News from HealthDay

By Steven Reinberg

HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, Dec. 17, 2013 (HealthDay News) -- As the final phase of the Affordable Care Act, sometimes called "Obamacare," begins, a new report shows that more than 45 million Americans still don't have health insurance.

As troubling as that number may seem, it represents only 14.6 percent of the population and it is a modest decline from the past few years, according to the report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"To no one's surprise, the most recent data on health insurance coverage from the National Center for Health Statistics demonstrate that there is not yet much impact from the implementation of the Affordable Care Act," said Dr. Don McCanne, a senior health policy fellow at Physicians for a National Health Program.

McCanne, who had no part in the study, said he expects the rates of the uninsured to drop further as the Affordable Care Act is fully enacted in 2014.

"Over the next year or two, because of the mandate requiring individuals to be insured, it can be anticipated that insured rates will increase, particularly with increases in private coverage through the exchange plans and increases in Medicaid coverage in those states that are cooperating with the federal government," McCanne explained.

In the report, published in the December issue of the CDC's NCHS Data Brief, the numbers of the uninsured varied by age. In the first half of 2013, 7 percent of children under 18 had no health insurance. Among those with insurance, 41 percent had a public health plan, and nearly 53 percent had private health insurance, according to the report.

As for those aged 18 to 64, about one-fifth were uninsured, about two-thirds had private health insurance and nearly 17 percent had public health insurance.

Insurance coverage also varied by state, the researchers found. For example, in the first six months of 2013, just over 11 percent of those under 65 in New York had no health insurance, while 24 percent were uninsured in Florida.

And fewer folks went without insurance compared to the past few years, according to the report. In 2010, 16 percent of Americans weren't insured, while that percentage was just over 15 percent in 2011 and it dipped to 14.7 percent in 2012.

In a second report in the NCHS Data Brief, CDC researchers found that getting access to a doctor wasn't always easy for all Americans.

In 2012, 2.4 percent had difficulty finding a general doctor, 2.1 percent were told that a doctor would not accept them as new patients and 2.9 percent were told that a doctor did not accept their insurance, said study author Renee Gindi, a survey statistician at CDC's National Center for Health Statistics.

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