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.