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New Survey Yields More Proof That The Affordable Care Is Working


A new Gallup survey confirms that the Affordable Care Act is achieving one of its primary purposes: reducing the number of uninsured Americans.

The Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, released today, shows that the percentage of Americans without health insurance has dropped from 17.1 percent to 15.6 percent, placing the uninsurance rate at the lowest rate since late 2008. Importantly, the results provide independent validation for the Obama administrations’ claims that the law is expanding access to insurance, particularly for working people without employer-provided coverage.



The poll comes as good news for the White House, a week after it announced more than 7 million people had signed up on the federal and state exchanges for health care insurance.

After hitting an all-time high of 18.0% in the third quarter of 2013, the uninsured rate started falling, a trend that has continued throughout the enrollment period for the Affordable Care Act. According to Gallup, “this is a sign that the Affordable Care Act, commonly referred to as “Obamacare,” appears to be accomplishing its goal of increasing the percentage of Americans with health insurance coverage.”

In March, the uninsured rate dropped more than a point, from 15.5% in the first half of the month to 14.5% in the second half, the largest such drop in any one-month period. Gallup reports that the significant reduction in uninsured Americans during the latter half of March is an indication that enrollment through the ACA’s healthcare exchanges picked up as the deadline approached.

The number of Americans without health insurance fell across all age groups, with slightly greater reductions among younger age groups (18-25 years and 26-34 years). Many of those in the 18 to 25-year age group likely gained coverage through their parents’ plan, thanks to one of the law’s key provisions, which allows young adults to stay on their parent’s insurance until they turn 26. This is one of the most popular parts of the health care law, but just last week we learned that the Republican plan for health care would not include this provision — nor would it keep the protections for people with pre-existing conditions.

Gallup found that the greatest gains were among low-income Americans and African Americans, indicating that the health care law is helping those most in need gain coverage. Low-income Americans and minorities have among the highest rates of uninsured in the country, so the significant gains in coverage are an extremely positive indication that the ACA is working as it is supposed to.

Last week, the Department of Health and Human Services released a report showing that almost 4.5 million low-income Americans who were in need of coverage during the ACA’s enrollment period have gained access to public health insurance through the ACA’s expansion of Medicaid eligibility criteria. This number would be as high as 10 million if all states had expanded Medicaid. In states that implemented the expansion, enrollment in Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) grew by more than eight percent, while states that refused the expansion only saw a two percent increase over the same period. Minorities and low-income populations were hit the hardest in states where Republican governors rejected the Medicaid expansion.

This announcement is the fourth time in a row that the Gallup poll has reported falling rates of uninsured Americans, indicating that the ACA’s success is not just a fluke. Of course, you wouldn’t know that from Republicans’ reactions to the numbers. But, as Greg Sargent of the Washington Post points out, each new Gallup report raises the question, “How much longer can Republicans continue to pretend the law’s beneficiaries don’t exist?”

Even beyond the Gallup results, plenty of other indicators show that the ACA is helping Americans gain health insurance. Jonathan Cohn reports that the Gallup survey is consistent with other key data:

  • Health Reform Monitoring Survey. In this survey, conducted by the Urban Institute and supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the rate of uninsurance among non-elderly adults fell from 17.6 percent in the first quarter of 2013 to 15.2 percent in the first quarter of 2014.
  • The Rand Corporation. According to reporting by Noam Levey of the Los Angeles Times, unpublished research from Rand suggests that the percentage of uninsured Americans fell from 20.9 in late 2013 to 16.6 percent in early 2014.

So Republicans now have a choice: either face the reality that the Affordable Care Act is working, or blatantly lie about the facts. Based on their recent behavior, I think we can all guess which choice they’ll make.


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"Science is a way of thinking much more than it is a body of knowledge." -- Carl Sagan


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