The percentage of people in America without health insurance has dropped to 9.2%, while fewer people are avoiding seeking health care because of cost, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in a preliminary report released Tuesday.
Based on data from its January-March 2015 National Health Interview Survey, the CDC said the 9.2% figure was lower than the 2014 estimate of 11.5%. The estimate hovered around 15% during the years prior from 1997 until 2013. It was 16% in 2010, the year the Affordable Care Act was passed, and 14.4% in 2013.
The CDC said the number without health insurance dropped from 41 million in 1997 to 29 million in January-March 2015. The United States population was 268 million on July 1, 1997, and is currently 321 million, according to the Census Bureau.
The drop in the uninsured has come as more people are insured through a public plan. The survey found that 24.2% of people under age 65 this year are insured through a public plan, about the same as in 2014 (24.5%). That number has been more or less rising since 1997, when it was 13.6%. The percentage of people under age 65 insured privately has fallen from 70.8% in 1997 to 66.5% in 2015.
Americans ages 25-34 were much more likely to be uninsured (18.3%) than those under 18 (4.6%).
The National Health Interview Survey was based on interviews covering 15 health-related subjects. Respondents were asked about their households, about a sample adult in the household, or about a sample child in the household. The data was released prior to final data editing and data weighing.
The survey found that the percentage of people who avoided seeking needed medical care because of cost during the past 12 months has dropped to 4.4%, compared to 6.9% in 2009 and 2010. The current percentage is about equal to what it was in the late 1990s.
Other findings included:
• The percentage of adults age 18 and over who are current cigarette smokers has fallen from 24.7% in 1997 to 15.2% this year. Almost 63% have never been smokers, while 22% said they were former smokers.
• The percentage of adults ages 18 and over with diagnosed diabetes has increased from 5.1% in 1997 to 9.3% this year.
• 30.2% of respondents age 20 and over reported heights and weights that would classify them as obese – about the same as last year, compared to less than 20% in 1997.