Sunday, March 06, 2016

Obamacare Has Insured 20 Million More Americans

The chart above was made from information provided by the Department of Health And Human Services. It shows that, while Obamacare (the Affordable Care Act) has not been perfect, it has been pretty effective in helping more Americans to get health insurance. The percentage of uninsured Americans has been cut from 20.3% in 2013 to 11.5% in 2016 (and the drop has been evident among all demographic groups). It could be cut even more if the Republican-controlled states would expand Medicaid. This is a good result, but not good enough.

Here is the conclusion of DHHS on Obamacare's effect:

We estimate that the provisions of the ACA have resulted in gains in health insurance coverage for 20.0 million nonelderly adults (ages 18 to 64). This estimate comprises 17.7 million nonelderly adults who gained coverage due to the coverage expansions that began in the fourth quarter of 2013 and 2.3 million young adults (ages 19 to 25) who gained coverage between 2010 and 2013 due to the ACA’s provision allowing young adults to stay on a parents’ plan until the age of 26. In total, 6.1 million previously uninsured young adults have gained coverage due to the ACA. This is especially important because this population were particularly likely to be uninsured prior to the enactment of the ACA. The gains in coverage have been shared widely across racial and ethnic groups, with the rate of being uninsured decreasing by 11.8 percentage points among Black non-Hispanics, by 11.3 percentage points among Hispanics, and by 7.3 among White non-Hispanics.

This is a good result, but not good enough. All Americans should be covered by good health insurance (as the other developed nations have done). Both Democratic presidential presidents have this as their goal. Hillary Clinton wants to improve on Obamacare -- something a clear majority of Americans also want (according to Kaiser Family Foundation health polls). Bernie Sanders wants to institute a "Medicare for all" single-payer system. I think that would be the best answer, but polls have shown that Americans are just not ready for that drastic a change.

All of the Republican presidential candidates have said they would do away with Obamacare, and replace it with a better plan (although none of them have come up with any kind of plan at all). According to the Kaiser polls, only about a third of Americans agree with this approach. That idea may appeal to the Republican base, but it would take health insurance away from 20 million Americans -- which seems to be a mistake in an election year.

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