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8.8 Million More People Got Health Insurance Last Year, Largely Due to Obamacare

| September 19, 2015

health insurance enrollees record

On its way. (Keoni Cabral)

The percentage of Americans without health insurance dropped by nearly three percentage points between 2013 and 2014, according the U.S. Census Bureau, from 13.3 to 10.4 percent. Put another way, 8.8 million more people were insured in 2014 than the year before.

The annual study from Census is considered the definitive measure of health insurance, although a change in the way health insurance questions are asked make this year’s report comparable to 2013 but not earlier years.

Census officials, however, point out that a different annual survey that has asked health insurance questions consistently show this to be the biggest drop in the uninsured since at least 2008.

Others say the sizable increase in Americans with insurance – due in large part to the implementation of the federal health law – is unprecedented since the creation of Medicare and Medicaid 50 years ago.

“It’s probably the biggest drop ever,” said Paul Fronstin, director of health research at the Employee Benefit Research Institute, who has been studying the uninsured since 1993.

Expanding Medicaid–as Florida did not–would have added to the ranks of the insured even more.

“For the general population, this is a historic drop,” agreed Diane Rowland, head of the Kaiser Family Foundation’s Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured. (Kaiser Health News is an editorially independent program of the Foundation.)

More importantly, said Rowland, “the gains are exactly where the biggest problems were,” meaning the largest increases in coverage were in those groups with traditionally the highest rates of uninsurance – younger, working-age adults and people with low and moderate incomes.

Despite the gains, the Census study found that 33 million people are without insurance.

While the gains in insurance coverage were widespread, they were not equal in every category. Not surprisingly, among types of coverage, the biggest increases were in people covered by Medicaid (up 2 percentage points to 62 million people) and people buying their own health plans (up 3.2 percentage points to 14.6 million people). Expanding Medicaid and making private insurance easier to purchase by those without employer coverage were key focuses of the health law.

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But the largest single source of health insurance remains that provided by employers. That number held steady at around 55 percent.

The uninsured rate dropped for every age, income and ethnic group and in every state, although, again, some gained more than others.

Those at the lower end of the income scale were more likely to gain insurance than those with more resources. The uninsurance rate for households earning less than $25,000 per year dropped 4.3 percentage points and the rate for those with incomes between $25,000 and $50,000 dropped 5 points. The uninsurance rate for those earning more than $100,000 annually dropped too, but by less than a percentage point. Most of those people, however, were already insured.

Similarly, the uninsured rate for the white non-Hispanic population (the ethnicity most likely to have insurance) dropped by just over 2 percentage points, while the rates for blacks, Asians and Hispanics dropped by more than 4
percentage points each.

Among states, Massachusetts (which began requiring most people to have insurance in 2006) had the lowest rate of people uncovered, at 3.3 percent, while Texas continued to lead the nation with the highest uninsured rate, 19.1 percent.

States that expanded Medicaid, however, saw overall gains in insurance – not just Medicaid – that were larger than those that did not. For example, people with incomes above poverty but less than four times that (most of whom are not eligible for Medicaid) still saw an overall decline in uninsurance of 6.4 percentage points in states that expanded Medicaid, while states that didn’t take that option saw that rate drop by only 4 percentage points.

Rowland suggests that “reflects the push in those states to get people insured, above and beyond (Medicaid) expansion.”

–Julie Rovner, Kaiser Health News

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9 Responses for “8.8 Million More People Got Health Insurance Last Year, Largely Due to Obamacare”

  1. Bob says:

    Obamacare. Paid for by the middle class. 700 million dollars taken from Medicare. Every person I’ve asked said their rates went up. This is Obamas big accomplishment!

    • Nancy N. says:

      Insurance rates were going up astronomically for everyone BEFORE the ACA law. But everyone seems to have forgotten that. The rate of premium growth has slowed since the ACA law took effect, but the haters conveniently ignore that.

    • Geezer says:

      The local mind reader charges you half price.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Affordable care act affordable ONLY because its paid in large part by others then those who get it.

  3. Anonymous says:

    @Bob says–Yeah, like people on Medicare NEVER waste those resources so that they are totally bankrupting the system for future generations and the “middle Class”, as you put it. “Do as as I say and not as I do” seems to be an unfortunately entitled attitude of today’s OLDER generation, who couldn’t seem to give less of a darn about anyone else as long as they get what they think they deserve (and way more than they have personally paid into the “kitty” to receive.)

    • Lancer says:

      How much did 0bamacare take from Medicare? Also, the left’s health system bastion of light, Taxachussetts, has taken millions from the fed to support their government controlled system.

      32.2 Million short of what the left has spewed for years was the fault of wicked, horrible, greedy, terrible health care system.

      What’s the cost per patient for these 8.8 million?

  4. Nancy N. says:

    Almost everyone in this country takes out more than they put into the system in benefits, since the top 1% pays about half the federal budget. Glass houses…Stop whining about who is or is not paying for their healthcare until you start paying the full bill for your share of the highways you drive on and the military that protects you.

    There’s an underlying assumption in some of the comments that needs to be called out – a seeming belief that if you can’t pay for it yourself that you are unworthy of the basic right of healthcare. Several commenters here seem to believe that how much money a person has should determine who lives and who dies in this country. That is a sadistic mindset. What happened to concern for others?

    • Geezer says:

      “Several commenters here seem to believe that how much money a person
      has should determine who lives and who dies in this country.”

      It’s the right-wingnuts in reality, who’d like to see the so-called “death panels.”
      The death panel convenes at admission, where you’re asked for insurance info.
      Many a Caucasian, jaundiced, & toothless person (clearly poor) has spoken out
      against the AHCA. That’s the white-bigot “black-president-effect.”
      It rapidly turns brains into bone.

      Symptoms resemble those of a racist white person lost in the desert who refuses
      a canteen of water from Samuel L. Jackson.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Concern for others is reserved for Sundays in Church and not the other six days of the week, when scared and/or entitled individuals are fed lies that lead them to believe that they will receive a lot less if others in need are given a little more.

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