President Obama greets doctors from around the country. White House photo by Pete Souza

The percentage of San Diegans covered by health insurance increased significantly in 2014 to nearly 88 percent, thanks in part to the individual mandate under the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare.

The San Diego metro area’s 2014 coverage rate was 87.7 percent, up from 83.7 percent in 2013, according to statistics released Thursday from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey.

The increase in the number of insured was also dramatic statewide, increasing to 87.6 percent in 2014 from 82.8 percent in 2013.

“The Census figures are the gold standard and what the numbers show is that California is having one of the largest impacts in the nation on reducing the rate of the uninsured,” said Peter V. Lee, executive director of Covered California, the state’s insurance exchange created under Obamacare.

Nationwide the percentage of insured grew to 86.6 percent as the individual mandate  — the requirement that every American have health insurance or pay a tax penalty — came into effect in 2014.

Other highlights from the San Diego survey are:

  • 68.1 percent of the insured were covered by private plans.
  • 28.8 percent of the insured were covered by Medicare and other public plans

“We cannot rest on our laurels,” Lee added. “You don’t change overnight from a culture of coping, where people think they can’t afford coverage and make do without care, to a culture of coverage.”

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Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.