The number of American adults without health insurance fell 16.5 million from five years ago, when Obamacare was signed into law, the largest drop in four decades, a new report says.
The report, released by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services on Monday, says the uninsured rate is 13.2%, down from 20.3% in 2012-13.
That’s a 35% decline, “quite simply a historic reduction in the uninsured rate,” said Meena Seshamani, director of the Office of Health Reform for HHS. “Today, we know that the Affordable Care Act is working. … These numbers represent real people.”
The statistics are based on an analysis of data from the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index Survey through March 4. They do not break out how many of the newly insured gained coverage through Medicaid, how many bought insurance on health care exchanges and how many got insurance at work.
Edmund Haislmaier, senior research fellow for health policy at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think-tank, said using survey data and extrapolating figures is “kind of a backwards way” of looking at the reduction in the uninsured. A better way is to examine insurer data, he said. For the first three quarters of last year, he said, insurer data showed a net growth of 5.8 million people in the individual insurance market, both on and off exchanges. He said that was offset by a 4.9 million-person decrease in the employer-insured market — meaning net growth in the private insurance market was less than a million people.
Government data cited by the Kaiser Family Foundation showed that from summer 2013 to 2014, there was a net increase of 8.7 million people enrolled in Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program.
Richard Frank, HHS assistant secretary for planning and evaluation, disagreed with Haislmaier on the private-coverage numbers, saying, “We have not seen a drop in employer-based coverage.” Overall, he said, the nation hasn’t seen a drop this significant in the rates of uninsured Americans since the implementation of Medicare and Medicaid.
“That’s good for the people and their health, and it’s good for the economy,” Frank said.
Other highlights of the HHS report include:
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SOURCE: USA Today – Laura Ungar