WASHINGTON — A growing share of Americans got health insurance as sign-up season for President Obama’s health care law came to a close last month, a survey released Monday has found.
The Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index provides independent validation for White House assertions that the law is expanding access, particularly for working people with no coverage on the job. But the improvement, while substantial, doesn’t appear as large as some of the numbers claimed by the law’s supporters.
Gallup found that the share of adults without health insurance shrank from 17.1 percent at the end of last year to 15.6 percent for the first three months of 2014.
The decline of 1.5 percentage points would translate to about 3.5 million people gaining coverage. The trend accelerated as the March 31 enrollment deadline loomed.
‘‘The Affordable Care Act, commonly referred to as ‘Obamacare,’ appears to be accomplishing its goal of increasing the percentage of Americans with health insurance,’’ said Gallup’s analysis of the findings.
The survey is important because it combines the quick turnaround of media polls with extensive outreach usually seen in government research. Gallup interviewed 43,500 adults, or about 40 times the number in a typical national media poll.
Coming a week after the close of the health care law’s first enrollment season, Gallup’s numbers suggest a more modest impact on coverage than statistics cited by the Obama administration.
The administration says at least 7 million people have signed up for subsidized private plans through new insurance markets. Additionally, 3 million previously uninsured people gained coverage through the law’s Medicaid expansion.
Millions more remain potentially eligible for marketplace coverage under various extensions issued by the administration. White House senior adviser Dan Pfeiffer said this weekend on CBS that 200,000 people who had started applications but weren’t able to finish by the deadline got signed up later in the week.
However, the administration’s numbers are not comparable with Gallup’s.
The White House figure of 7 million-plus insurance exchange sign-ups includes insured people who switched their previous coverage, as well as people who have not paid their first month’s premium, and who would therefore still be uninsured.