David Nather: The Verdict Is In: Obamacare Lowers Uninsured
The evidence is piling up now: Obamacare really does seem to be helping the uninsured. Survey after survey is showing that the number of uninsured people has been going down since the start of enrollment last fall. the trend is unmistakable: Millions of people who didn’t have health insurance before the Affordable Care Act have gained it since last fall. The law is not just covering people who already had health coverage, but adding new people to the ranks of the insured — which was the point of the law all along. even health care analysts who think the law is a bad idea acknowledge that the evidence suggests the uninsured are being helped. Given the predictions of doom that accompanied the law’s passage and launch, that’s a sweet bit of vindication for the president and ACA supporters. “It will be better when we’ve got a whole year behind us, so we can tell how much [in the surveys] was noise and how much was reality,” said Douglas Holtz-Eakin of the conservative American Action Forum, a frequent critic of the law. “Having said that, it sure looks like there are more people covered, and that’s a good thing.”
A survey by the Commonwealth Fund found that 9.5 million fewer adults are uninsured now than at the beginning of the Obamacare enrollment season. The Urban Institute’s Health Reform Monitoring Survey found a similar drop, with 8 million adults gaining coverage. And Gallup-Healthways survey reported that the uninsured rate has fallen to 13.4 percent of adults, the lowest level since it began tracking health coverage in 2008. the Commonwealth Fund survey also suggested that most of the people who have signed up for the Affordable Care Act are happy with their coverage — and aren’t just disgruntled people who were already insured and liked their own coverage better. According to the survey, 58 percent of the Obamacare customers said they were better off under their new health coverage, and only 9 percent said they were worse off than they were before. Even among people who previously had health insurance — the ones who might resent having to switch — 52 percent liked the new coverage, while 16 percent said they were worse off.