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Survey: Uninsured Rate Drops; Health Law Cited

/ Source: Associated Press

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With just three weeks left to sign up under President Barack Obama's health care law, a major survey tracking the rollout finds that the uninsured rate keeps going down.

The Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, released Monday, found that 15.9 percent of U.S. adults are uninsured thus far in 2014, down from 17.1 percent for the last three months — or calendar quarter— of 2013.

That translates roughly to 3 million to 4 million people getting coverage.

Gallup said the share of Americans who lack coverage is on track to drop to the lowest quarterly level it measured since 2008, before Obama took office.

The survey found that almost every major demographic group made progress getting health insurance, although Hispanics lagged.

With the highest uninsured rate of any racial or ethnic group, Latinos were expected to be major beneficiaries of the new health care law. They are a relatively young population and many are on the lower rungs of the middle class, holding down jobs that don't come with health insurance.

But the outreach effort to Hispanics got off to a stumbling start. The Spanish-language enrollment website, CuidadodeSalud.gov, was delayed due to technical problems. Its name sounds like a clunky translation from English: "Care of Health." A spot check of the Spanish site on Sunday showed parts of it still use a mix of Spanish and English to convey information, which can make insurance details even more confusing.

All indications point to lackluster Latino numbers, prompting the administration to make a special pitch as the end of open enrollment season approaches on March 31. The president was on Spanish-language television networks last week to raise awareness.

Gallup found the biggest drop in the uninsured rate was among households making less than $36,000 a year — a decline of 2.8 percentage points.

The administration is citing numbers that are far higher than Gallup's: about 4 million people signing up for private coverage, and 9 million for Medicaid.

But those statistics also include people who already had health insurance and switched to coverage offered under the law. The government numbers also include children, while Gallup focuses on adults.

-The Associated Press

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