The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, has received plenty of criticisms since its inception but if statistical figures are the sole indication of its success, the number of people, who were not insured before but now have health coverage under Obamacare, speaks positively of how Americans have embraced the healthcare reform.
Findings of a new study published in the New England Journal of Medicine on Wednesday, July 23, show that many Americans have availed of health coverage since enrollment for Obamacare began in October last year. The law, which was signed by President Barack Obama on March 23, 2010, initiated the biggest reform in the country's health system since the 1960's. Under Obamacare, middle-class Americans are offered with government subsidized private health coverage. It also expanded Medicaid for individuals whose income falls at or below poverty levels.
For the study, Benjamin Sommers from the Harvard School of Public Health, and colleagues looked at the survey data from the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index (WBI) and the statistics of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) on enrollment for marketplace coverage and Medicaid to find out how many people got health coverage under the Affordable Care Act.
The researchers said that between January 2012 and June 2014, the number of uninsured adults has dropped which coincided with ACA's initial open enrollment period with about 10.3 million adults 18 to 64 years old gaining health coverage since October 2013. The decline in the number of uninsured adults was over five percentage points. Two groups with prior high uninsured rate, young adults and Hispanics, had the biggest gains in health coverage availment.
"As compared with the baseline trend, the uninsured rate declined by 5.2 percentage points by the second quarter of 2014, a 26% relative decline from the 2012-2013 period," the researchers wrote. "Combined with 2014 Census estimates of 198 million adults 18 to 64 years of age, this corresponds to 10.3 million adults gaining coverage, although depending on the model and confidence intervals, our sensitivity analyses imply a wide range from 7.3 to 17.2 million adults."
The researchers, however, said that their data did not include the estimated 3 million young adults who may have gained coverage through their parents' insurance policies under the health reform law. Sommers and colleagues also noted that because of the limitations of their data, their study could not establish a causal relationship between Obamacare and the uninsured rate albeit they said that their findings suggest an association.