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Monday, September 23, 2013

Uninsured in U.S. Remain Steady as Health Exchanges Await

Author: Drew Armstrong

There was little shift in the share of people in the U.S without health insurance in the first quarter of 2013, a trend likely to change when new coverage marketplaces open next month as part of the health overhaul law.

Forty-six million people didn’t have health insurance in the first quarter of the year and 57 million people, or 19 percent of the U.S., were without coverage at some point in the prior 12 months, according to a survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

That represents almost no difference from a year earlier, the CDC said in a report released today. The figures are expected to change when new insurance marketplaces open Oct. 1 as the U.S. begins the biggest expansion of health-care coverage since the 1960s under the 2010 Affordable Care Act. Congressional analysts project the online markets, called exchanges, will attract about 7 million people in their debut. The exchanges will provide subsidies for people whose incomes are less than 400 percent of the federal poverty level.

The biggest coverage shift was with people the Atlanta-based CDC calls the near-poor, or those with incomes of 100 percent to 200 percent of the federal poverty level. For a single person, that’s $11,490 to $22,980; for a family of four, $23,550 to $47,100.

While about the same percentage of near-poor people were covered, fewer had private insurance, according to the CDC. Instead, more people in this income group used government coverage, including the federal-state Medicaid program for the poor or Medicare, the U.S. plan for the elderly and disabled. Among people 18 to 64 years old, 28 percent were part of public insurance plans in the first quarter of 2013, compared with 25 percent in 2012.

The health-care overhaul expands Medicaid to 138 percent of federal poverty, in states that have agreed to do so.

Medicare enrollment rose to 48.9 million in 2012 last year, a 2 million-person increase from 2011 that was greater than gains in any other type of health plan, government or private, the Census Bureau reported Sept. 17. While 171 million people still get coverage through employers, the share with private plans fell to 54.9 percent, from 55.1 percent.

To contact the reporter on this story: Drew Armstrong in New York at;

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Reg Gale at



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