More Americans had health insurance in 2011, as more youngadults jumped onto their parents' health plan as part of a popularprovision in President Obama's Patient Protection and AffordableCare Act, and more people enrolled in government-sponsoredcoverage.

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The rate of Americans without health insurance fell to 15.7percent last year, down from 16.3 percent in 2010, according toCensus Bureau numbers released in mid-September. Now, 48.6 millionpeople aren't insured, down from 50 million in 2010. 

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It's the first time in four years the number of uninsured hasdropped.

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Young adults experienced a 2.2 percent decrease in the uninsuredrate. Rates also decreased among seniors.

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Government-sponsored health coverage increased for the fifthconsecutive year, jumping from 31.2 percent to 32.2 percent. Abouta million more people were covered by federal health care programsincluding Medicare, Medicaid, Children's Health Insurance Programand military health care, the report shows.

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But for the majority of Americans—those between 26 and 64 yearsold—the uninsured rate remained essentiallyunchanged. 

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About 64 percent of Americans had private health insurance in2011, unchanged from 2010, the Census report revealed. It was thefirst year in a decade the proportion of people with privateinsurance didn't fall.

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But National Center for Policy Analysis senior fellow DevonHerrick says the “crisis of the uninsured” is far from over.

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 “At least 30 million people will remain uninsured inonce the Affordable Care Act is fully implemented,” he says, addingthat it's largely because the penalties for forgoing healthcoverage are less than the cost of coverage. 

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Moreover, he says, “maybe up to one-third of businesses willfind it to their advantage to drop the employee health plan oncetheir workers have access to subsidized coverage in the statehealth insurance exchanges. Another unintended consequence of theACA is that many people will quite rationally wait until theybecome sick to enroll in health coverage due to new federalregulations that require insurers to accept all applicantsregardless of health status.”

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