A new report has upped the estimated number of people who havegained health insurance through the Patient Protection andAffordable Care Act.

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The Department of Health and Human Services now estimates that17.6 million Americans are insured because of the law, up from theprevious estimate of 16.4 million thatwas released in March.

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“Five years in, millions of people have new coverage and thepercentage of the uninsured has been reduced to the lowest level onrecord," said HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell during an address at theHoward University College of Medicine. "We now have a newopportunity before us to build on this progress.”

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Burwell also outlined the ways in which the situation couldimprove. Millions remain uninsured and still have the opportunityto get insurance during the upcoming open enrollment period.

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HHS estimates that 10.5 million Americans are eligible to getmarketplace coverage during that period. These are generally peoplewhose incomes are too high to qualify for Medicaid but who do notreceive insurance through an employer.

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HHS has identified five priority target areas with high numbersof eligible people without insurance: Dallas, Houston, northern NewJersey, Chicago and Miami.

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Much of the outreach will focus on young people, since thedepartment estimates that half of the uninsured eligible for exchange plansare between the ages of 18 and 34. Getting more young people ontothe exchanges will also further bolster the long-term prospects ofthe marketplaces and hopefully drive premiums down.

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Among those eligible for the marketplaces, 19 percent areHispanic, 14 are African American, 2 percent are Asian and 67percent are white.

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