Study: 10.3M have gained coverage since the ACA's initial open enrollment

HHS Secretary calls study reaffirming

About 10.3 million U.S. residents have gained health coverage since the Affordable Care Act's (ACA) insurance exchanges opened last fall, according to a study this week in NEJM.

RAND: At least 9 million people have gained insurance through the ACA

For the study, researchers from Brigham & Women's Hospital, the Harvard School of Public Health, and the federal government analyzed 30 months of U.S. Census data, national survey results, and government enrollment data. Researchers found that:

  • Between January 2012 and June 2014, the uninsured rate among adults under age 65 fell by 5.2 percentage points, with the largest declines coming among blacks, Latinos, and young adults; and
  • The uninsured rate for individuals with incomes below 138% of the federal poverty level declined by six percentage points in states that expanded their Medicaid program under the ACA, while the uninsured rate for the same population declined by a "nonsignificant" 3.1 percentage points in states that did not expand Medicaid.

HHS Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell in a statement said, "This study also reaffirms that expanding Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act is important for coverage, as well as a good deal for states."

Who's saying no to Obamacare? The states that might need it the most.

The researchers also found that the likelihood of U.S. residents having a personal physician increased by 2.2 percentage points. Further, the number of adults who said they could not afford medical care declined by 2.7 percentage points.

The study authors said their data were not sufficient to demonstrate a causal relationship between the ACA and the uninsured rate, but rather showed "suggestive associations." In addition, they noted that the number of individuals who gained coverage under the ACA could range from 7.3 million to 17.2 million U.S. residents depending on the models and confidence intervals used to interpret the data (Sommers et al., NEJM, 7/23; Demko, Modern Healthcare, 7/23 [subscription required]; Morgan, Reuters, 7/23; Winfield Cunningham, Politico, 7/23; CQ Roll Call, 7/23 [subscription required]).

Next in the Daily Briefing

How to tell an older surgeon: It's time to give up the scalpel.

Read now