Filed Under:  Business, Health & Wellness, News

Survey: Percentage of Blacks who lack health insurance drops

24th March 2014   ·   0 Comments

By Frederick H. Lowe
Contributing Writer

(Special from The North Star News) – The number of African Americans who lack health insurance has dropped and the reason for the decline most likely is President Barack Obama’s Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which Congressional Republicans and some Democrats are working hard to delay implementation of or repeal.

The percent of African Ameri­cans who did not have insurance from January 2 to February, was 18.3 percent, down 2.6 percentage points compared to 20.9 percent in 2013’s fourth quarter, Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index reported on Monday. The uninsured rate dropped the most among African Americans and persons of low income.

Gallup-Healthways based its findings on more than 28,000 landline and cell phone interviews with Americans from January 2, through February 28.

“With only a few weeks remaining in the first quarter, the uninsured rate is on track to be lowest quarterly level that Gallup and Healthways have measured since 2008,” Gallup reported. “The uninsured rate has been declining since the fourth quarter of 2013 after hitting an all time high of 18.0 percent in the third quarter. The uninsured rate for the first quarter of 2014 so far includes a 16.2 percent reading for January and 15.6 percent for February.”

As of Oct. 1, 2013, the first day of open enrollment for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reported that there were an estimated 6.8 million uninsured African Americans, and 56 percent, or 3.8 million, were men. In 2012, the black population was 44.5 million, according to Black­Demo­graphics.com

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act took effect January 1 and open enrollment ends March 31. Still Republicans and some Democrats in Congress recently held their 50st vote to delay for one year implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Democrats like Charles Rangel (D., N.Y.) however, are running for re-election to block any repeal of the legislation. So far, four million individuals have signed up for the Affordable Care Act.

According to Gallup-Healthways, the percent of whites who lacked health insurance dropped. The percent of Hispanics who lacked health insurance also dropped but at a much lower rate.

Some 10.9 percent of whites were uninsured from January 2 through February 28, down 1.0 percentage points compared to 11.9 percent in 2013’s fourth quarter. Hispanics who lacked health insurance from January 2 through February 28, was 37.9 percent, down 0.8 percentage points from 38.7 percent in the 2013’s fourth quarter.

The survey noted that adults who earn less than $36,000 annually reported a significant decline among the uninsured, dropping 2.8 percentage points to 27.9 percent from January 2 to February 28, 2014, compared to 30.7 percent in the 2013’s fourth quarter.

Gallup–Healthways reported the uninsured rate among 26- to 34- year olds and 35 -to 64- year old continues to decline, but the enrollment rate among 18- to 34-year olds continues to hover at 25 percent.

The survey noted the percentage of Americans who get insurance through a current or former employer fell 2.1 percentage points so far in the first quarter of 2014 to 43.4 percent, from Jan. 2 to Feb. 28, 2014, compared to 45.5 percent in the fourth quarter of 2013.

“More Americans now say their primary health insurance coverage is through a plan fully paid for by themselves or a family member compared with at the end of 2013—18.1 percent vs. 17.2,” Gallup-Healthways reported.

This article originally published in the March 17, 2014 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper.

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