Gallup Survey Shows Uninsured Rate Plummeting in U.S., California

February 24, 2015

A new Gallup survey released today found that the uninsured rate in the U.S. dropped from 17.3% to 13.8% over the last year. This share is the smallest recorded by Gallup in 7 years. States across the country recorded reductions in the uninsurance rate, and California was no exception. Gallup found that in the Golden State the figure fell from 21.6% to 15.3%. Another survey released by the Commonwealth Fund last summer showed an even more dramatic drop from 22% to 11% among working age adults in California.

Gallup reported that California’s drop was the sixth largest as a share of its population. While California previously had an uninsured rate that was among the highest in the nation, it has fallen out of the top 10, now ranking 14th.

Arkansas and Kentucky also had impressive reductions in their uninsurance rates, with both roughly cut in half over the last year. These two states are notable because their rates were also very high, over 20%, before the rollout of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) coverage expansions in 2014. These states also both opted to expand their Medicaid programs, while many other Southern states did not. In fact, Texas, Mississippi, Georgia, Oklahoma, and Florida had the five highest uninsured rates, respectively, ranging from 24.4% to 18.3%.

Massachusetts continues to have the lowest uninsured rate, at 4.6% according to Gallup. The Bay State was followed by Connecticut, Minnesota, Hawaii, and Vermont—all falling in between 6.0% and 7.4%.

In sum, Gallup highlights the impact that the ACA has had on coverage nationwide, and these findings further underscore the success that California has had.

Still, California has the opportunity to do even more to reduce its uninsured rate in the coming years. President Obama’s recent executive order expands Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), and creates Deferred Action for Parental Accountability (DAPA) for new groups of undocumented immigrants. With enrollment in these new and expanded programs, many more California residents would be eligible for full-scope Medi-Cal coverage under California law because they would be Permanently Residing Under Color of Law (PRUCOL). As the DACA expansion and DAPA are implemented, it will be important to make sure that everyone who is or may become eligible for health coverage is aware of the programs that are available for them.