Short Takes On News & Events

Study Estimates 10 Million Americans Gained Health Coverage

By Phil Galewitz

July 24th, 2014, 9:46 AM

About 10.3 million Americans gained health coverage this year, primarily as a result of the Affordable Care Act, according to a study by the federal government and Harvard University, published Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine.

The estimate of newly insured adults — the largest to date — is the first published in a major medical journal and authored by some federal health researchers.

The federal government had previously reported that about 8 million people bought private health plans on the state and federal exchanges and 6.6 million additional people enrolled in Medicaid since last October. But it has not estimated how many of those had been previously uninsured.

The Obama administration took pains yesterday to say that the views of the study’s authors are not those of the administration – even as it hailed their findings.

“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,” Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell said in a statement. “This study also reaffirms that expanding Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act is important for coverage, as well as a good deal for states.”

The study found that the number of uninsured adults fell by a little over 5 percent nationally, from 21 percent in September 2013 to 16.3 percent in April 2014, with the most significant declines in the 26 states that expanded Medicaid under the health law.

While all groups saw reduced uninsurance, the largest changes occurred among Latinos, blacks and adults between the ages of 18 and 34 – groups that had been targeted for outreach, the study found. The analysis was based on data from a Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, a daily telephone survey of more than 400,000 adults conducted from January 2012 through June 2014, which the researchers purchased from Gallup. It also took into account other surveys and changes in the economy and trends in insurance coverage.

Researchers stressed the data’s limitations, saying the estimate might range from 7.3 to 17.2 million adults depending on the assumptions. They noted that the Gallup-Healthways data does not include information on children’s insurance coverage. It also doesn’t take account of the young adults who were able to stay on their parent’s policies because it does not go back before 2012.

“The Gallup data, which draws on an enormous sample, paint a compelling picture, finding a substantial drop in uninsurance since the beginning of the first open enrollment period, precisely where we would expect to see it–in states that expanded Medicaid coverage and in income groups targeted by Medicaid or the new subsidies for coverage,” said Genevieve Kenney, a senior fellow at the nonpartisan Urban Institute.

The analysis found that more adults (approximately 4.4 million) also reported having a personal doctor and fewer (5.3 million) reported experiencing difficulties paying for medical care.

“The pattern of coverage gains was consistent with the effects of the ACA, with major gains for persons likely to be eligible for expanded Medicaid on the basis of their income and state of residence, but smaller and nonsignificant changes for low-income adults in states without Medicaid expansion,” the study said.

About 48 million Americans, or 15.4 percent of the population, lacked health insurance in 2012, according to the latest Census Bureau report from last year.

11 Responses to “Study Estimates 10 Million Americans Gained Health Coverage”

  1. Tom says:

    I’m happy to say that I’m among the 10 million people mentioned in the article. After a lifetime of being unable to afford health insurance, I now have coverage thanks to the Affordable Care Act (ACA). If Republicans think they can repeal the ACA and take away my health insurance, let them try! I will fight, with everything I have, to keep my health insurance. I will not allow it to be taken away without a battle! If I must, I’ll pitch a tent on my Congressman’s front lawn if he tries to repeal the ACA. I will protest as long as it takes to defeat any attempt to repeal the ACA. I’m not alone! I know plenty of people that will be in the tent with me! We have waiting far too long to get affordable access to health insurance. If Republicans think they can take it away, they’d better think again!

  2. Lawrence says:

    Tom,

    Ditto!

    Like you, I’ve waited too darn long to get affordable health insurance!

    I ain’t giving it up without a fight!

    I’m hanging onto my ACA health insurance like gun lovers are hanging onto their guns!

    I’ll be dead before I give it up!

  3. Wes says:

    Wow Tom, you’ve managed to live a “lifetime” without the ACA. How’d you do it? Did you go without healthcare? You’d pitch a tent on your congressman’s front lawn? Sounds like you got plenty of time to work a job and pay for your own insurance.

  4. Ken says:

    Duh! Will someone please tell Wes that it’s possible, in the richest nation on earth, to be living in abject poverty and still work full time?

    Fact is, the percentage of hourly paid American workers earning the prevailing federal minimum wage (or less) was 4.3 percent in 2013. Wow Wes! That’s almost 14 million Americans! Before the ACA became law, you could work a full time job for $7.25 per hour and it’s probable that you never had a chance to afford health insurance. Today, with the blessing of the ACA, if Tom works at a fast food joint, he can afford health insurance. Obviously, Wes doesn’t work at a fast food joint, do you Wes? Republicans really are THAT stupid! Morons!

  5. tina says:

    Sadly, we have people in the U.S. Congress that think like Wes. Cro Magnon Republicans in the Congress have been passing laws for decades to allow corrupt corporations to take high paying jobs overseas in search of low wage (no benefits) labor. Then, those same Cro Magnon Paul Ryan Republicans turn around and blame average Americans because they can’t find a job except low paying (no benefits) jobs in the fast food industry. Fact is, the fast food industry loves the fact that their employees get food stamps, housing subsidies and Medicaid because the fast food executives don’t need to worry about having easy access to slave laborers right here in America, the wealthiest nation on earth. Fact is, its our tax dollars that pay for food stamps, housing subsidies and Medicaid so that the fast food industry can get a free ride. The tax payer supports a low wage work force for the fast food industry so that corporate executives can continue to pay themselves their huge yearly bonuses. Sadly, people like Wes are blind to the truth. People like Wes still think poor people simply don’t work. People like Wes think that the federal government still supports welfare queens. You see, Wes doesn’t remember the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 that Predident Bill Clinton signed into law virtually ending traditional welfare. Among many other provisions, that law stopped these entitlements by…

    -Ending welfare as an entitlement program
    -Requiring recipients to begin working after two years of receiving benefits
    -Placing a lifetime limit of five years on benefits paid by federal funds
    -Aiming to encourage two-parent families and discouraging out-of-wedlock births
    -Enhancing enforcement of child support
    -Requiring state professional and occupational licenses to be withheld from illegal immigrants

    That law forced millions of people back to jobs that paid minimum wages. The fast food industry loved it! After that law got enacted, the fast food industry now had a minimum wage workforce that, as long as their employees worked full time, they got sudsidies for food, housing and medical care. Most employees with decent paying jobs can afford these things and don’t need federal subsidies. Not employees in the fast food industry! They still qualify for tax payer funded subsidies for these subsidies while the fast food executives laugh all the way to the bank. Still don’t get it Wes? I’m not surprised! If you are a Republican, you never will!

  6. steven says:

    Hey Wes,

    I’m 37 years old and I flip burgers full time in the great state of Texas! Most weeks I can get 35 hours but some weeks I clock over 60 hours. That’s usually when another worker is absent for some reason. I make $7.43 an hour. There’s no overtime pay. There’s no healthcare benefits. There’s no pension benefits. There’s no 401k plan. There’s no paid vacation. There’s no paid holidays. Just $7.43 an hour. My wife works full time as a waitress at a pizza joint and she gets paid waitress pay with tips. She works days and I work nights so we can juggle our schedules and one of us can manage to be at home with our two kids. Only two years ago, we both worked for a national wireless company as field technicians. Great jobs with good wages and benefits. That’s were we met. Then, our company merged with a foreign company and many American employees got laid off. We got laid off too. We rent a small two bedroom (Section 8) apartment and qualify for federal housing benefits. We qualify for food stamps. Our kids use to be on a CHIP program for healthcare and my wife and I had absolutely no healthcare whatsoever. Now, because of the Affordable Care Act, we recently got a family healthcare plan and we pay $155 per month for the entire family when you include federal subsidies. Would we like to have a better jobs? Absolutely! Can that be done in a right-to-work state like Texas, a state famous for lots of (low wage and no benefit) jobs? Fat chance! If Rick Perry and the state legislature would accept Medicaid Expansion, then, like so many other poor Texans, we’d qualify for healthcare at a better price because we represent the perfect example of a Texas family in poverty. I say all this to assure you that, even thought we are poor, even thought we accept subsidies, even thought we both work full time jobs and even thought we both work very hard for long hours, for you to say poor that people don’t work for a living is a total insult! You need to come to Texas and see how poor people live. Maybe you’ll consider Texas for your next vacation choice? Because goodness knows, Texas needs your vacation dollars and we’d love to see you in our fast food restaurants!

  7. steven says:

    Sorry for the typos…

  8. Ken says:

    Thanks Steven…for providing a much needed reality check for Wes. If there’s one thing we can all count on, it’s that nitwit Republicans may as well live on Mars because they have absolutely no connection to reality here on earth. NONE!

  9. it’s that nitwit Republicans may as well live on Mars because they have absolutely no connection to reality here on earth. NONE!

  10. Georgina says:

    There’s only a certain segment in society that should be voting for Republicans. That segment represents the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans. Anyone in the remaining 99 percent of society that joins the Republican Party and votes for Republican candidates is a fool. Republicans don’t represent average working Americans. Never have and never will. An average middle-class working American has nothing in common with the Republican Party. The average middle-class working American is probably one paycheck away from poverty. If you think Paul Ryan or John Boehner are coming to rescue the middle-class, then you have not read any of the legislation that they propose. Republicans want to end Medicare as we know it. Republicans want to end Social Security as we know it. Republicans don’t want any safety net in case you lose your job. Republicans want to end Obamacare and end your relationship with your doctor and return to having insurance companies controlling your healthcare choices. Republicans want to reward big business with huge tax breaks (corporate welfare) while they cut education funding for your schools. Just ask your local school board how much less they get in state funding if they have a Republican Governor. Republican Governors all across America have slashed education funding to the bone while they protect gas and oil industries and make sure their taxes are as low as possible. If you vote for a Republican, you deserve what you get. You’ve been warned!

  11. steven says:

    Texans say, DON’T MESS WITH TEXAS?

    I say, DON’T MESS WITH MY OBAMACARE!

Share