Healthcare Business News

10.3 million gained insurance under Obamacare: study

By Paul Demko
Posted: July 23, 2014 - 7:15 pm ET

About 10.3 million Americans have gained insurance coverage since the full implementation of Obamacare last year, according to an analysis published Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine. The uninsured rated dropped to 16.3% at the end of April from 21% before the initial open enrollment period for plans on the new insurance exchanges.

The decreases were most pronounced among low-to-middle income households in states that expanded Medicaid eligibility to residents with incomes up to 138% of the federal poverty level.

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In Medicaid expansion states, the uninsured rate for individuals with incomes below 138% of the poverty level dropped by 6 percentage points. It dropped 9 percentage points for residents in those states with incomes between 138% and 400% of the poverty level. (Federal subsidies to help pay for plans purchased on the exchanges are available to households with incomes up to 400% of the poverty level.)

In non-expansion states, the level of uninsured dropped by 3.1 percentage points for individuals with incomes below 138% of the poverty level, and by 5.5 percentage points for those with incomes between 138% and 400% of the federal poverty standard.

HHS Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell hailed the 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,” 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 analysis was based in part on Gallup survey data, which included responses from more than 400,000 individuals over the relevant 28-month period. The study was conducted by six researchers, including Harvard School of Public Health’s Benjamin Sommers.

A group of 33 Democratic House members, primarily from states among the 24 that have yet to raise Medicaid eligibility, announced Wednesday that they formed a new caucus to push more states to expand their programs.

Follow Paul Demko on Twitter: @MHpdemko

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