OBAMACARE IS WORKING!!

ABSTRACT: Obamacare, or more formally the Affordable Care Act (ACA), is working: more people have health insurance. Nationwide, over 20 million people now have health insurance who didn’t before the ACA went into effect. With this and other good news about the ACA, the American public is growing more positive about it, despite continued efforts by Republicans to trash it and the failure of Democrats, including the President, to effectively get the message out about its successes and benefits.

The increase in health coverage is particularly evident in states that have fully adopted the provisions of the ACA for expanding Medicaid and establishing the clearinghouses (known as “exchanges”) where people can buy health insurance. In these states, the percentage of residents without health insurance has dropped by 4 percentage points in the last year. In states that have adopted neither or just one of these ACA provisions, the decline in the uninsured was roughly half that.

In the 24 states that have not adopted the ACA Medicaid expansion, up to 12 million of their residents will not have access to free health insurance. It is estimated that 45,000 people die each year because of lack of health insurance. The refusal of states to adopt the Medicaid expansion of the Affordable Care Act is basically for political purposes – so legislators and Governors can proclaim their opposition to Obama and Obamacare.

This refusal to provide Medicaid health coverage to low income residents is unconscionable and will be an issue in the 2014 campaigns. I encourage you to support candidates and officials who favor Medicaid expansion (and the ACA in general) and oppose those who don’t. The benefits for the millions of Americans who now have or will get health insurance due to the ACA is truly immeasurable.

FULL POST: Obamacare, or more formally the Affordable Care Act (ACA), is working: more people have health insurance. Nationwide, over 20 million people now have health insurance who didn’t before the ACA went into effect: roughly 10 million have purchased insurance through the exchanges, 7 million have been covered by the expansion of Medicaid, and 2 million children up to age 26 have been able to stay on their parents’ insurance. [1]

Another indication that the ACA is working is that the number of insurers participating in the ACA exchanges is growing, giving consumers more choices and very likely lowering premiums. The concern that many people would sign-up for health insurance but not follow through and pay for it has not been the case. With all the good news about the ACA, the American public is growing more positive about it, despite continued efforts by Republicans to trash it and the failure of Democrats, including the President, to effectively get the message out about its successes and benefits. [2]

The increase in health coverage is particularly evident in states that fully adopted the provisions of the ACA for expanding Medicaid coverage for low income individuals and establishing the clearinghouses (known as “exchanges”) where people can buy health insurance.

In these states, the percentage of residents without health insurance has dropped by 4 percentage points in the last year. Leading the way was Arkansas where the uninsured dropped from 22.5% in 2013 to 12.4% by the middle of 2014 – a 10 percentage point drop. In Kentucky, the uninsured dropped from 20.4% to 11.9% – an 8.5 percentage point decline. [3]

In states that have adopted neither or just one of these ACA provisions, the percentage of uninsured residents fell, but by only 2.2 percentage points. In other words, the decline in the uninsured was roughly half that of the states that fully adopted the ACA.

In the 24 states that have not adopted the ACA Medicaid expansion, up to 12 million of their residents will not have access to free health insurance. [4] Not having health insurance is hazardous to your health. It is estimated that 45,000 people die each year because of lack of health insurance. [5] A specific example is that women with no health insurance are 4 times more likely to die in childbirth or during pregnancy than women who have health insurance. In the US, 18.5 women die in childbirth or pregnancy for every 100,000 births. In countries with universal health coverage, the rates are much lower: in Canada the rate is 8.2, in Britain 6.1, and in Iceland 2.4. [6]

The refusal of states to adopt the Medicaid expansion of the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) is harming millions of people’s health and killing some of them. The refusal is basically for political purposes – so legislators and Governors can proclaim their opposition to Obama and Obamacare. Although they will come up with other reasons for their failure to expand Medicaid, none of them really hold water. In particular, the Medicaid expansion will cost the states nothing for the first 3 years; it will be fully federally paid for. After the first 3 years, states will be asked to pick up part of the cost, but it will be less than 10%. And the benefit to the covered individuals and the state’s health care providers will far exceed the cost.

This refusal to provide Medicaid health coverage to low income residents in 24 states is unconscionable and will be an issue in the 2014 campaigns for federal and state offices. If you are in a state that hasn’t expanded Medicaid (see the Families USA reference to find out), I encourage you to ask your elected officials and candidates if they support the refusal to expand Medicaid and, if so, why. I encourage you to support candidates and officials who favor Medicaid expansion (and the ACA in general) and oppose those who don’t. The benefits for the millions of Americans who now have or will get health insurance due to the ACA is truly immeasurable.

[1]       Gaba, C., (aka Brainwrap), 5/4/14, “ACA signups: The final graph for the 2014 open enrollment period,” Daily Kos (http://www.dailykos.com/story/2014/05/04/1296851/-ACA-Signups-The-Final-Graph-of-the-2014-Open-Enrollment-Period)

[2]       McCarter, J., 6/13/14, “Obamacare’s very good week,” Daily Kos (http://www.dailykos.com/story/2014/06/13/1306811/-Obamacare-s-very-good-week)

[3]       Alonso-Zaldivar, R., 8/6/14, “Health care law paying off for states that embraced it,” The Boston Globe

[4]       Families USA, 5/30/14, “A 50-state look at Medicaid expansion: 2014,” (http://familiesusa.org/product/50-state-look-medicaid-expansion-2014)

[5]       Cecere, D., 9/17/09, “New study finds 45,000 deaths annually linked to lack of health coverage,” Harvard Gazette (http://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2009/09/new-study-finds-45000-deaths-annually-linked-to-lack-of-health-coverage/)

[6]       Reich, R., 5/13/14, “How the right wing is killing women,” RobertReich.org (http://robertreich.org/post/85556159055)

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