A special report in the New England Journal of Medicine finds that Obamacare enabled 10.3 million uninsured Americans to get health insurance.
According to a study by the federal government and Harvard University published recently in the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers estimated that the uninsured rate in U.S. declined by 5.2% in the second quarter of 2014, corresponding to 10.3 million adults gaining coverage by the Affordable Care Act.
In the first quarter of 2014, a Bloomberg report was released finding that the challenge that the Obama administration face as far as health insurance is concerned is to convince young people about the value of having insurance in their lives.
But in April 2014, a survey conducted by RAND American Life Panel has estimated a net gain of 9.3 million in the number of American adults with health insurance coverage from September 2013 to mid-March 2014.
The recent report found that the number of Americans without health insurance declined significantly since the ACA open-enrollment period began in October 2013. So far, 26 states and the District of Columbia have expanded Medicaid. Along with Medicaid eligibility to citizens and legal immigrants with incomes at or below 138% of the federal poverty level in participating state, the act also offered tax credits for private insurance purchased through exchanges for people who do not qualify for Medicaid and who have incomes between 100% and 400% of the federal poverty level.
Utilizing the largest national daily poll on health issues, the Gallup–Healthways Well-Being Index (WBI) and HHS data, the researchers used three approaches to test the associations between the ACA open-enrollment period and coverage changes. The WBI is a daily telephone survey that asks a national sample of adult’s questions about health insurance, access to care, and health status. The survey sample included more than 420,000 adults aged 18 to 64 years from January 1, 2012, through June 30, 2014.
In the first approach, based on employment, income, and demographic characteristics, coverage changes in the fourth quarter of 2013 and the first two quarters of 2014 were assessed. Next they tested for differential effects in the subgroups most likely to gain insurance under the ACA and finally an association between survey-reported coverage changes and state-level marketplace and Medicaid enrollment statistics from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) were tested.
Researchers found that:
- Most of the people who gained coverage were either low-income residents of states that expanded their Medicaid programs or individuals who qualified for government-subsidized plans purchased through Obamacare’s insurance exchanges.
- The biggest gains in coverage were for Latinos, blacks and adults ages 18-34.
- The biggest improvements in coverage occurred among Hispanics, blacks, and adults aged 18 to 34 years, as well as in states that expanded Medicaid.
- By the second quarter of 2014, the rate of uninsured people with incomes at or below 138% of the poverty level dropped 6 percentage points in states with Medicaid expansion compared with a non-significant decline of 3.1 percentage points in the population among states without Medicaid expansion.
- In the next income range (139% – 400% of the federal poverty level), the uninsured rate dropped 9 percentage points in states with Medicaid expansion and 5.5 percentage points in those without Medicaid expansion
However, the coverage gains in this study do not include the 3 million young adults who were able to remain on their parents’ plans.
According to the HHS Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell, “We are committed to providing every American with access to quality, affordable health services and this study reaffirms that the Affordable Care Act has set us on a path toward achieving that goal. This study also reaffirms that expanding Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act is important for coverage, as well as a good deal for states”.