By Lisa Zamosky
The primary goal of the Affordable Care Act is to reduce the number of people in the U.S. without access to health insurance. Now that the law’s first open enrollment period is now closed, some new data has come out that looks at how the law is meeting this goal. A few polls and reports out this week suggest that the law is at least playing a role in helping to increase the number of people with health insurance in this country.
According to the latest Gallup poll, the number of uninsured Americans is at its lowest since 2008.
By the second half of March, 15.6% of the U.S. population was uninsured, a drop from 18% in the last quarter of 2013. According to the survey , “The current figure as of today is likely lower given that uninsured rates declined throughout the quarter, including in late March,” referring to the rush of people signing up for insurance before open enrollment officially closed on March 31.
The poll was conducted between January 2 and March 31, 2014, with a random sample of 43,562 adults over the age 18 and older.
A second report out by the independent, non-partisan RAND Corporation found that since September, Obamacare is responsible for 9.3 million Americans gaining health insurance coverage.
Like the Gallup poll, RANDS’s findings don’t include the last-minute rush of enrollments in late March and early April. Still, it finds that the number of uninsured Americans has dropped since September, 2013.
Here’s some of what the report found:
- 8.2 million people gained access to employer-sponsored insurance plans. However, only some of this is likely due to the law, according to the report. The law’s mandate to have insurance may have pushed some people to take up coverage on the job who chose not to before. But another likely cause is the economic recovery that happened between September 2013 and March 2014 coverage, leading more people to find jobs that come with an offer of insurance.
- Medicaid enrollment increased by 5.9 million.
- 3.9 million people gained insurance coverage through the state and federal exchanges. Of this group, the report found that 36% did not have insurance before the law. The rest presumably switched from one type of private insurance plan to another.
According to the study, which was based on a sample of 2,425 individuals questioned about their insurance status up to March 28, “further changes in enrollment figures can be expected as people become more familiar with the law, the individual mandate penalties increase to their highest levels, the employer mandate kicks in, and other changes occur.”
It goes on to say: “Early evidence from our nationally representative survey indicates that the ACA has already led to a substantial increase in insurance coverage.”
Share your story: Did you sign up for health insurance during open enrollment? If so, had you been uninsured prior to the Affordable Care Act becoming law? Share your experience in the comments section below.