Fewer Americans are uninsured than ever before, new federal data shows.Quarterly numbers from the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) show that the uninsured rate fell to 8.6 percent during the first three months of 2016. That’s the lowest rate the government has on record.
States that opted to expand Medicaid coverage to include lower-income individuals have managed to cut their uninsured rate from 18.4 percent in 2013 to 9.2 percent in the first three months of 2016. The uninsured rate has fallen most dramatically for nonwhite adults since 2013. For Hispanic adults, the uninsured rate has been cut nearly in half, dropping from 40.6 percent in 2013 to 24.5 percent in 2016.
Carolyn Y. Johnson: U.S. Will Spend $2.6 Trillion Less On Health Care Than Expected Before Obamacare, Study Projects
A new study predicts that the federal forecast of national health care spending under President Obama’s signature health law was a big overestimate — by $2.6 trillion over a five-year period. Looking forward, the study’s authors also point to recent evidence that a 2014 uptick in health spending that had seemed to signal a return to higher growth may have been temporary. If slower growth persists, they argue that it will become harder to argue that it is just the economy and not the cost containment policies enabled by the Affordable Care Act that are tempering spending. Hempstead said it’s becoming increasingly plausible that the federal policies included in the Affordable Care Act —
and its ripple effects as programs implemented within Medicare influence the private market — are having a tempering effect. Hempstead thinks that some of the policies that came with health reform have contributed. For example, she pointed to a policy that was intended to cut hospital readmissions by introducing financial penalties for hospitals with excessive readmissions. Being readmitted to the hospital isn’t good for patients or for payers — a report by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality found that 3.3 million adult hospital readmissions racked up $41.3 billion in hospital costs in 2011. Hospital readmission rates fell after the Affordable Care Act was implemented, both for conditions targeted by policy and those that weren’t.
Tens of thousands of Minnesotans gained health coverage between 2013 and 2015, pushing the state’s uninsured rate to an all-time low as federal health reform took hold across the state. A biannual survey released Monday by the Minnesota Department of Health and the University of Minnesota showed that 213,000 more residents had health insurance last year compared to 2013. The share of Minnesotans lacking coverage plummeted from 8.2 percent to 4.3 percent, with progress in virtually all demographic groups.
State officials hailed the role of MNsure, despite vexing technical problems for the online marketplace, for connecting more Minnesotans with coverage they previously lacked or couldn’t afford. Expanded eligibility for the state’s Medicaid program helped as well, along with new rules allowing young adults to remain on their parents’ health plans. The results were “an unprecedented advance for the health and security of Minnesota families — particularly those who had previously been lost in the gaps of our system,” said Dr. Ed Ehlinger, state health commissioner.
a new paper shows one place where the law has been a clear success: narrowing the race gap in health insurance. So why aren’t more Democrats shouting that from the rooftops. In 2013, the year before most of the law’s provisions for subsidized insurance took effect, non-elderly blacks were 47 percent more likely than whites to be uninsured.
For American Indians, that figure was 93 percent; for Hispanics, 120 percent. In 2014, not only did the share of whites without insurance fall; the share of blacks and Asian Americans fell by more. The difference between whites and Hispanics shrank, from 14 percentage points to 11.8 percentage points. What’s odd about the race gap isn’t its persistence, but that its narrowing isn’t more celebrated as one of the law’s accomplishments. Narrowing the race gap in health insurance counts unequivocally as progress.
More young women are getting screened and diagnosed with early-stage cervical cancer, potentially because Obamacare allows them to access insurance benefits through their parents’ plans, according to a new study from American Cancer Society researchers. The researchers examined a large database that tracks cancer cases in the United States. They compared the cancer diagnoses among women between the ages of 21 to 25 to the diagnoses among women between the ages of 26 to 34 — both before and after the Affordable Care Act’s coverage expansion took effect. An Obamacare provision that allows young adults to remain insured through their parents’ plans until the age of 26 appears to have affected the rates of cervical cancer diagnosis among that demographic.
After the ACA, the diagnosis rates significantly rose for the women in their early twenties and remained fairly constant for older women. “It’s a very remarkable finding, actually,” researcher Dr. Ahmedin Jemal told the New York Times. “You see the effect of the ACA on the cancer outcomes.” It’s better to receive an early cancer diagnosis because the disease is easier to treat in its early stages and patients are more likely to survive. Even though it might not sound like a good thing that cervical cancer cases are on the rise, it’s actually reflective of the fact that more people are using their health insurance to get screened. Previous research has found that people with insurance are more likely to take advantage of preventative health services like screenings that can detect cancer as soon as possible.
The percentage of women of reproductive age who were uninsured dropped sharply between 2013 and 2014, the first full year of implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The decrease among women aged 15–44, calculated by the Guttmacher Institute, mirrors broader national trends reported by the U.S. Census Bureau. This includes steeper drops in the uninsured rate in states that expanded Medicaid under the ACA compared with the rates in those states that did not. The proportion of reproductive-age women without health insurance declined by more than one-fifth between 2013 and 2014, from 17.9% to 13.9%. The change appears to have been driven primarily by gains in Medicaid coverage (from 17.2% to 20.2%). There was a small increase in the proportion of women with private health insurance, from 60.9% to 62.1%.
Gains in insurance coverage among reproductive-age women who live below the poverty line were substantial as well. The uninsured rate dropped by one-fifth, from 32.1% in 2013 to 25.6% in 2014. The gains in the proportion of women aged 15–44 who have insurance coverage has significant implications for access to health care in general, and to sexual and reproductive health care in particular. Medicaid has long offered a very robust package of sexual and reproductive health care services, including family planning services and supplies without out-of-pocket costs for enrollees. And the ACA has spurred significant improvements in private plans’ coverage; most notably, the contraceptive coverage guarantee ensures that privately insured women can access the full range of 18 Food and Drug Administration–approved contraceptive methods for women without out-of-pocket costs.
A total of 17.6 million people have gained coverage under ObamaCare, according to a revised government estimate. The newest figure, which is based on national survey data, shows that 1.2 million more people had signed up for healthcare over the last five years than previously thought. The revised total includes 15.3 million people who gained coverage through the individual marketplace or through Medicaid. It also includes 2.3 million young adults who gained coverage because they were able to remain on a parent’s plan until they turn 26.
The new data also puts the Obama administration ahead of the health insurance gains estimated by the Congressional Budget Office for 2015. The CBO had predicted roughly 17 million people would gain coverage by 2015. Health and Human Services (HHS) chief Sylvia Mathews Burwell announced the new figure Tuesday during a speech at Howard University Hospital, where she also highlighted the law’s impact on black and Hispanic populations. “This progress has been even bigger for people of color,” she said, pointing to the 10 percent drop in the uninsured rate among black Americans.