At its most basic level, the Affordable Care Act was intended to reduce the number of Americans without health insurance. Measured against that goal, it has made considerable progress.
A perfect measurement of the numbers of people affected by the law is still difficult, but a series of private sector surveys and a government report reach the same basic estimates: The number of Americans without health insurance has been reduced by about 25 percent this year — or eight million to 11 million people.
Of that total, it appears that more than half of people who are newly insured signed up for Medicaid, especially in the states that opted to broaden eligibility for the program to low-income residents. Most of the rest enrolled in private health plans through the new state insurance marketplaces.
In addition to the recent changes, three million to four million people, mostly young adults, became newly insured through provisions of the law that kicked in before this year.
“There’s no question it’s come down,” Dan Witters said of the uninsured rate. Mr. Witters is the research director of the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, which has been surveying Americans about their health insurance status since 2008.
Gallup has recorded a drop in the percentage of American adults without insurance from 18 percent in mid-2013 to 13.4 percent by the end of May. Those results roughly mirror other polls. The Commonwealth Fund, a health research group in New York, has commissioned a quarterly telephone poll that found a five percentage point reduction in uninsured adults under 65. A government survey from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention covered only the first three months of the year, but its results are also roughly consistent with the other studies for that period.
Whether the reduction is a success or a disappointment depends on one’s perspective. When the health care law passed in 2010, the Congressional Budget Office estimated that by 2017 about 32 million more Americans would get insurance through the law.
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Jeffrey R. Ungvary President