A new poll out from Gallup finds that the uninsured rate has dropped to 12.9%, the lowest rate since they began tracking it in 2008. One of the objectives of the Affordable Care Act, also known as “Obamacare,” was to reduce the number of people that were uninsured either through Medicaid expansion or through the individual mandate.
Judging by the results of this poll, it is apparent that this part of Obamacare has indeed been quite successful, despite political criticism and opposition to the law – as well as the 50+ attempts to repeal or defund it.
Granted there are people who will provide their own anecdotal stories about how their healthcare costs soared, how the mythical death panels exist (those are actually known as your insurance company’s claims adjusters), or how their uncle’s cousin’s neighbor’s dog’s groomer’s boyfriend signed up for Obamacare through a state exchange and suddenly became a gay atheist. Thanks Obama!
Here’s a big takeaway from the poll as well:
While the uninsured rate has declined across nearly all key demographic groups since the Affordable Care Act went into effect a year ago, it has plunged most among blacks and lower-income Americans. The uninsured rate among blacks dropped seven points over the past year, while the rate among Americans earning less than $36,000 in annual household income dropped 6.9 points.
The Hispanic population remains a key target of the healthcare law’s marketing efforts, as it continues to be the subgroup with the highest uninsured rate, at 32.4%. Still, the percentage of uninsured Hispanics is down 6.3 points since the end of 2013.
Across age groups, the uninsured rate dropped the most among 18- to 25-year-olds, falling 6.1 points from a year ago. The rate fell 5.6 points for 26- to 34-year-olds, and 5.2 points for 35- to 64-year-olds. The percentage of uninsured Americans aged 65 and older has not changed over the past year, likely because most were already covered through Medicare. (Source)
This number would have likely been even higher had Republican-held state governments not blocked Medicaid expansion for political purposes. Here in Louisiana, Bobby Jindal and Republican lawmakers in the state legislature refused to go along with Medicaid expansion, claiming that it would be too expensive.
Opponents, mirroring Jindal, claimed the Medicaid program is broken and expanding it would not improve residents’ health. They said it would significantly increase state costs over time and help people who don’t need it.
“It’s a massive, expensive entitlement program,” said state Department of Health and Hospitals Chief of Staff Calder Lynch. (Source)
How much would Medicaid expansion have cost Louisiana? About $886 million over a decade, according to the Legislative Fiscal Office, which is a nonpartisan organization.
$886 million over a decade is a small drop in the bucket when you consider the ridiculous amount of money that Louisiana fails to charge corporations in taxes, all while shoving the fiscal burden off to the private citizens – and that’s just one conservative state out of many who have Medicaid expansion. Texas alone accounts for 1.2 million uninsured people who would have benefited from Medicaid expansion, and Florida has almost 850,000 in the same predicament.
Opponents of Obamacare will point to the findings of this Gallup poll not as a success, but merely people buying insurance so that they aren’t penalized on their tax returns for not having health insurance under the law. They’ll also point out that many of the folks who are now insured are also on Medicaid, not private insurance. However, nearly 7 million people had enrolled in private insurance plans as of October with many more projected to sign up in the coming months.
The numbers don’t lie, Americans want affordable healthcare. Obamacare was put into place to give that access to everyone and Republican state governments are the only ones now standing between the people and the healthcare that they need.
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