Obamacare is rocking it: huge drop in uninsured, high satisfaction with coverage

Credit: Commonwealth Fund

The facts just keep stacking up against the knee-jerk opponents of the Affordable Care Act. A new Commonwealth Fund study released this morning finds some stunning statistics for Obamacare: just since the beginning of last October's open enrollment period, the uninsured rate among non-elderly adults has dropped by 5 percentage point, and it dropped an astonishing 10 points among people 19-34.

The uninsured rate for people ages 19 to 64 declined from 20 percent in the July-to-September 2013 period to 15 percent in the April-to-June 2014 period. An estimated 9.5 million fewer adults were uninsured. Young men and women drove a large part of the decline: the uninsured rate for 19-to-34-year-olds declined from 28 percent to 18 percent, with an estimated 5.7 million fewer young adults uninsured.

Republicans in Congress shut down the government for sixteen days so that this couldn't happen.

This, one should note, comes entirely from plans obtained during the open enrollment period, above and beyond the 3 million additional 19-25 year olds who've been insured under their parents' plans thanks to another provision in Obamacare, as the Commonwealth study tracks changes specifically between the periods of July-September 2013 and April-June 2014. So much for "ZOMG young people won't get insured!"

In yet another notable finding of the study, the uninsured rate for people in poverty fell by 11 points, from 28% to 17% in states that expanded Medicaid under the ACA, but in states that refused to do so - sadly also the same states that already had the highest proportion of uninsured people in poverty - nearly 4 out of 10 poor adults remain without a basic health care lifeline. Republican leaders are denying health care to an additional 5 million Americans just to make a political point.

In the mean time, despite the media's best efforts to present Obamacare in a "controversial" light, the people actually enrolled in a marketplace plan - private or expanded Medicaid - find their coverage to be highly satisfactory, and in devastating news for the GOP, that holds true across party lines. 81% of all enrollees - including 88% of Democrats, 85% of independents, and 78% of Republicans say their new coverage improves their ability to get the care they need. Naturally, people who got the most help - and needed the most help - are the most optimistic, but for no single group of enrollees, across age, income, previous insurance status or type of insurance does approval dip below 2 out of 3.

Put another way:

Credit: Commonwealth Fund.

The numbers aren't exactly surprising, given an earlier report by the HHS showing that those who received a tax credit for purchasing health insurance in the federally run marketplaces pay an average of just $82 a month in premium (after their tax credit is factored in) across all plan types and all insurers. The HHS report also shows that in the first open enrollment period, shoppers on average had access to five insurers and 47 plans, making for a competitive marketplace. That competition is set to increase as new insurers rush to join the exchanges when this year's open enrollment opens.

In fact, the actual operation of the Affordable Care Act and its first open enrollment period has been so successful that experts are left wondering whether anti-Obamacare ad spending ended up helping boost enrollment numbers. Oops.

I said a long time ago that in time, Obamacare will become as revered as a social safety net as Social Security and Medicare. We're well on our way there. Despite everything Republicans in power did to slow down and screw up the Affordable Care Act - including shutting down the government - Obamacare is rolling on, and rolling its opponents.

At the end of the day, no amount of negative media coverage can overcome real people's experience with their own health care - nearly 10 million of whom didn't even have health care less than a year ago - thanks to Obamacare. When push comes to shove, Republican enrollees in Obamacare will be no more receptive than Democrats to politicians who run on the promise of taking their health care away from them. Pretty soon, they will be screaming, Hands off my Obamacare!



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