Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell announced last week the release of a new study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, estimating that 10.3 million uninsured adults gained health care coverage following the first open enrollment period in the Health Insurance Marketplace. The report examines trends in insurance before and after the open enrollment period and finds greater gains among those states that expanded their Medicaid programs under the Affordable Care Act.
“We are committed to providing every American with access to quality, affordable health services and this study reaffirms that the Affordable Care Act has set us on a path toward achieving that goal,” said Secretary Burwell. “This study also reaffirms that expanding Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act is important for coverage, as well as a good deal for states. To date, 26 states plus D.C. have moved forward with Medicaid expansion. We’re hopeful remaining states will come on board and we look forward to working closely with them.”
According to the authors’ findings, the uninsured rate for adults ages 18 to 64 fell from 21 percent in September 2013 to 16.3 percent in April 2014. After taking into account economic factors and pre-existing trends, this corresponded to a 5.2 percentage-point change, or 10.3 million adults gaining coverage. The decline in the uninsured was significant for all age, race/ethnicity, and gender groups, with the largest changes occurring among Latinos, blacks, and adults ages 18-34 – groups the Administration targeted for outreach during open enrollment.
Coverage gains were concentrated among low-income adults in states expanding Medicaid and among individuals in the income range eligible for Marketplace subsidies. The study also looks at access to care, and finds that within the first six months of gaining coverage, more adults (approximately 4.4 million) reported having a personal doctor and fewer (approximately 5.3 million) experienced difficulties paying for medical care.
Burwell also announced that consumers have saved a total of $9 billion on their health insurance premiums since 2011 because of the Affordable Care Act. An HHS report shows that last year alone, consumers nationwide saved $3.8 billion up front on their premiums as insurance companies operated more efficiently. Additionally, consumers nationwide will save $330 million in refunds, with 6.8 million consumers due to receive an average refund benefit of $80 per family. This standard and other Affordable Care Act standards contributed to consumers saving approximately $4.1 billion on premiums in 2013, for a total of $9 billion in savings since the MLR program’s inception.