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Insurance rates improved substantially after individuals were able to obtain coverage through provisions of the Affordable Care Act, according to the 2014 National Quality and Disparities Report released last week by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. The gains in access to care were greater among African American and Hispanic adults than whites.
The research and quality agency's annual report on the nation's health care includes a section on measures of access to care that, for the first time, cover a period after implementation of the Affordable Care Act's Health Insurance Marketplaces. Data covering January to June 2014 show that the overall rate of "uninsurance"—a measure of access to care—decreased substantially to 15.6 percent in the second quarter of 2014 among 18- to 64-year-olds (from a high of 22.3 percent in 2010). Because the data run through June 2014, they capture enrollment gains only from the first open enrollment period in the Health Insurance Marketplaces. The second open enrollment period began on November 15, 2014, and is not captured in the report.
The decline in uninsurance was greater among African Americans and Hispanics, who historically have had higher uninsurance rates compared to whites. For African Americans, the uninsurance rate decreased from 24.6 percent in the last quarter of 2013 to 15.9 percent in the first half of 2014. During the same period, the uninsurance rate dropped from 40.3 percent to 33.2 percent for Hispanics, and the rate declined from 14.0 percent to 11.1 percent for whites.