Between eight million and 11 million previously uninsured U.S. residents have obtained health coverage since the fall 2013 launch of the initial open enrollment period for the Affordable Care Act's insurance exchanges, according to data from a trio of new surveys.
Gallup's finding: Lowest level of uninsured on record
For the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Survey, researchers conducted telephone interviews with 45,125 U.S. adults ages 18 and older from April 1 to June 30.
The survey found that the uninsured rate fell to 13.4% in the second quarter of 2014, down 3.7 percentage points since last fall. The rate is the lowest level recorded since Gallup first began tracking the issue in 2008.
Urban's finding: At least eight million have gained coverage since late 2013
Meanwhile, the Urban Institute's Health Reform Monitoring Survey found that eight million people have gained coverage since fall 2013. Specifically, researchers found that the uninsured rate for adults under 65 declined to 13.9%, down four percentage points since September 2013.
The data were based on Urban's HRMS, which has been tracking insurance trends on a quarterly basis since March 2013.
Does expanding coverage improve health care?
Commonwealth's finding: Uninsured rate down by a quarter
Further, the Commonwealth Fund last week released a survey that determined that 9.5 million fewer adults are now uninsured. Specifically, the survey found that the uninsured rate among adults under age 65 declined from 20% to 15%.
The survey includes responses from 4,425 U.S. residents ages 19 to 64 collected between April 2014 and June 2014.
Conclusion: Specifics are debatable, but trend is clear
According to Politico, many health care experts believe that while there is too much variation in the data to precisely estimate how many people have gained coverage since the beginning of the exchanges' initial open enrollment period, these and similar surveys are sufficient to conclude that the ACA is reducing the uninsured rate.
According to Larry Levitt of the Kaiser Family Foundation said, "One has to acknowledge that at this point, despite some continuing bumps in the road, the ACA is largely on track to accomplishing what it set out to do," adding, "That, of course, doesn’t mean that everyone is benefiting from it or agrees with it. The law wasn't designed to create all winners and no losers" (Viebeck, The Hill, 7/10; Nather, Politico, 7/10; Terhune/Lauter, Los Angeles Times, 7/11).
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