- The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act has made a tremendous impact on healthcare coverage among Americans. An extra 20 million people now have healthcare access do due to the health insurance exchanges. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention along with the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released a report showing that the uninsured rate fell to 9.1 percent across the country in 2015.
The report called Health Insurance Coverage: Early Release of Estimates From the National Health Interview Survey, 2015 estimates that 7.4 million people gained coverage in 2015 as compared to the prior year. When looking at non-elderly adults, the uninsured rate dropped from 16.3 percent to 12.8 percent last year.
Insurance coverage among children also fell one percentage point to 4.5 percent. The report also detailed what type of medica insurance the American people possess such as policies through the health insurance exchanges, private commercial coverage, or public insurance.
It is important to note that the rate of uninsured Americans dropped 2.4 percent from 2014 to 2015.Out of all non-elderly adults surveyed between ages 18 to 64, the majority - 69.7 percent - had private health insurance. About 19 percent had public coverage while the rest lacked health insurance.
The general trends show that possession of private health insurance is on the rise while public coverage is also increasing. In fact, government-based insurance for children such as through the Children’s Health Insurance Program and Medicaid has jumped significantly over the last decade.
The results also show that the uninsured rate decreases as the age of the survey takers goes up. For instance, individuals who are 45 to 64 years of age have an uninsured rate of 8.8 percent while younger adults between 25 to 34 years old have a rate of 17.9 percent.
Wealth status and income also showed a drastic inequality in healthcare coverage within the report. Adults who are classified as poor had an uninsured rate of 25.2 percent and those reaching near poverty level had a rate of 24.1 percent. Individuals who were not classified as poor, on the other hand, had an uninsured rate reaching only 7.6 percent.
While the Affordable Care Act did make a significant impact on reducing the number of uninsured Americans and improving healthcare access throughout the country, more work may need to be accomplished in order to close the gap between those at or near the poverty level and the middle and upper classes.
The Affordable Care Act and its focus on Medicaid expansion did make healthcare coverage more accessible for residents of many states. Massachusetts, for instance, showed a record-breaking decline in the number of uninsured residents. Only 2.5 percent of people from Massachusetts lack health insurance, the report stated.
“Under provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) of 2010, states have the option to expand Medicaid coverage to those with low income. In 2015, adults aged 18–64 residing in Medicaid expansion states were less likely to be uninsured than those residing in non-expansion states,” according to the report.
“Among the 50 states and the District of Columbia in 2015, Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan, Mississippi, Nevada, New York, Texas, and Vermont had statistically significant lower percentages of uninsured than in 2014.”
In a news release, HHS Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell also praised the Affordable Care Act for its push toward reforming the healthcare industry and bringing access to medical insurance to the majority of American citizens.
Burwell also boasted about the fact that the Affordable Care Act eliminated clauses related to pre-existing conditions as well as provided the ability for young adults to remain on their parents’ insurance plans until the age of 26. Healthcare coverage also increased tremendously among states that chose to expand their Medicaid programs due to the funding provided by the Affordable Care Act.
“Today’s report is further proof that our country has made undeniable and historic strides thanks to the Affordable Care Act. The uninsured rate fell to 9.1 percent in 2015, making it the first year in our nation’s history that fewer than 1 in 10 Americans lacked health insurance, and the report documents the progress we’ve made expanding coverage across the country. Meanwhile, premiums for employer coverage, Medicare spending, and health care prices have risen at exceptionally slow rates. Our country ought to be proud of how far we’ve come and where we’re going,” Secretary Burwell said in a public statement.
“The Affordable Care Act made everyone’s insurance better, not just the people who have coverage through the Marketplace or even the 20 million people who have coverage because of the law. Today in America, there’s a father who can no longer be denied coverage because of a pre-existing condition; a mother who can no longer be charged more because she’s a woman; and a child who can stay on their parent’s plan up to age 26. Those rules benefit millions of people, and thankfully, they’re now part of the fabric of America.”
While there are still some issues that need to be addressed when it comes to health insurance and healthcare access, there are certainly a number of positives that the Obama administration has brought with the passage of the Affordable Care Act.