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September 16, 2014 10:28 AM EDT

The number of uninsured Americans dropped in the wake of the Affordable Care Act, according to the first government survey conducted since the law’s major insurance expansion programs went into effect.

In the National Health Interview Survey, a widely respected measure of the rate of insurance nationwide, researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention interviewed 27,000 people in the first quarter of 2014, and found that the number of Americans without health coverage had fallen by 8% since the same period in 2013. That was a decline of 3.8 million, resulting in a new total of 41 million uninsured.

Before the health law was implemented, many predicted it would bring new health coverage to millions more than that, but the CDC survey did not capture the surge of insurance sign ups in the final days of the first ACA open enrollment period, experts said.

Larry Levitt, a director at the Program for the Study of Health Reform and Private Insurance at the Kaiser Family Foundation, told the New York Times, “Regardless of what you think of the [Affordable Care Act], there should be no doubt at this point that the law is increasing the number of people insured.” He added that this survey’s findings “dramatically understate the effect” of the law.

 

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