A new study in the New England Journal of Medicine estimates that 10.3 million uninsured adults gained health care coverage following the first open enrollment period in the federal government’s health insurance marketplace.
The study, dealing with trends in insurance before and after the open enrollment period, finds greater gains in the states that expanded their Medicaid programs under the Affordable Care Act. Wisconsin is not one of those states.
In a news release responding to the report, Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell said, “This study also reaffirms that expanding Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act is important for coverage, as well as a good deal for states.”
“To date, 26 states plus D.C. have moved forward with Medicaid expansion. We’re hopeful remaining states will come on board and we look forward to working closely with them.”
The findings show that the uninsured rate for adults ages 18-64 declined from 21 percent in September 2013 to 16.3 percent in April 2014.
Factoring in economic factors and pre-existing trends, the researchers say this represents a 5.2 percentage-point change, or 10.3 million adults gaining coverage.
The research finds that the decline in the uninsured was significant for all age, race/ethnicity, and gender groups, with the largest changes occurring among Latinos, blacks, and adults ages 18-34.
Coverage gains were concentrated among low-income adults in states expanding Medicaid and among individuals in the income range eligible for Marketplace subsidies.
The study finds a 5.1 percentage point reduction in the uninsured rate associated with Medicaid expansion, while in states that have not expanded their Medicaid programs, the change in the uninsured rate among low-income adult populations was not statistically significant.
The study also shows that within the first six months of gaining coverage, more adults — about 4.4 million — reported having a personal doctor and fewer adults — about 5.3 million — experienced difficulties paying for medical care.
The study does not include data from before 2012, which means it does not include the estimated 3 million young adults who gained health insurance coverage through their parents’ plans following passage of the Affordable Care Act.
To read the story, go to http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMsr1406753.