About 16.4 million Americans have gained health insurance coverage since the Affordable Care Act took effect, dropping the U.S. uninsured rate by 7 percentage points, according to a new report released March 16 by the Department of Health and Human Services.

That includes 14.1 million adults who secured coverage since the beginning of open enrollment in October 2013 and 2.3 million young adults who have obtained coverage since 2010 because of the ACA’s provision allowing them to remain on a parent’s plan until age 26 years. From October 2013 to March 2015, the rate of uninsured patients fell from 20% to 13%, the report found.

Dr. Richard G. Frank , HHS assistant secretary for planning and evaluation called the reduction unprecedented.

“This is a historical drop in the uninsured, and nothing since the implementation of Medicare and Medicaid comes near to this type of change,” Dr. Frank said during a press conference. “We’re seeing gains across races and ethnicities. We’re seeing gains in all age groups, and we’re seeing notable gains in expansion states. … Numbers and statistics are important, and the story they are telling is that the Affordable Care Act is working to drive down the number of uninsured.”

The uninsured rate has declined across all race and ethnicities since the law’s 2010 implementation, with a greater reduction among uninsured blacks and Hispanics, the report found. This includes 5-percentage point reduction in the rate of uninsured whites, a 9-percentage point reduction in the rate of uninsured blacks, and a 12-percentage point reduction in the rate of uninsured Hispanics.

Coverage gains were especially strong in states that expanded their Medicaid programs, according to the report. The baseline uninsurance rate in expansion states was 18%; by March 2015, that had dropped 7.4 percentage points. In states that have not expanded Medicaid, the average baseline uninsured rate was 23%; that rate has dropped almost 7 percentage points since the law took effect.

For young adults aged 19-25 years, the uninsured rate fell from 34% to 27% between 2010 and October 2013. In a statement, HHS Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell said the uninsured rate reduction is the largest in 4 decades.

“Because of the Affordable Care Act, young adults are able to stay on their parents’ plans until age 26, states can expand their Medicaid programs, and tax credits are available to millions of Americans in all 50 states, making health care coverage more affordable and accessible,” Ms. Burwell said in the statement. “When it comes to the key metrics of affordability, access, and quality, the evidence shows that the Affordable Care Act is working, and families, businesses and taxpayers are better off as a result.”


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