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Saturday, October 22, 2016

By Noam N. Levey, Tribune Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON — The share of Americans without health insurance has dropped to the lowest level since before President Barack Obama took office, according to a new national survey that provides more evidence the health care law is extending coverage to millions of the previously uninsured.

Just 14.7 percent of adults lacked coverage in the second half of March, down from 18 percent in the last quarter of 2013, the survey from Gallup found.

The survey results, which track with other recent polling data and enrollment reports, indicate that about eight million people have gained health insurance since September. That figure takes into account any losses in coverage the law may have brought about by the cancellation of health plans that did not meet the new standards.

Gallup’s survey highlights a historic expansion in coverage unparalleled since the creation of Medicare and Medicaid half a century ago.

It also undermines critics’ persistent claims that the law has done little to expand health insurance.

“The uninsured rate has been falling since the fourth quarter of 2013 … a sign that the Affordable Care Act, commonly referred to as Obamacare, appears to be accomplishing its goal of increasing the percentage of Americans with health insurance coverage,” Gallup’s Jenna Levy wrote in an article describing the new poll results.

The gains found by the survey would include several new sources of coverage.

Under the law, Americans could begin shopping Oct. 1 for health coverage on new marketplaces in which insurers could no longer turn away sick customers. As of the end of March, about 7.1 million people had signed up that way, the administration said. Some of them previously had no insurance.

In addition, in about half the states, low-income Americans could sign up for government Medicaid coverage for the first time, an option the law provides to states.

Even more Americans probably gained coverage under provisions of the health care law that took effect earlier. Those gains would not be reflected in the survey if people got covered before September.

For example, as many as three million young people gained coverage by staying on their parents’ health plans until they turn 26.

And more low-income Americans got coverage in states that expanded their safety net programs ahead of 2014.

Without those earlier expansions, the nation’s uninsured rate would have been even higher before the marketplaces opened last fall. The percentage of Americans without insurance began climbing in the last year of the George W. Bush administration as the economy slid into recession, and it continued to rise over the following years.

  • Dominick Vila

    Obamacare is working as designed. It offers affordable healthcare coverage to Americans who never had it before, it helps the unemployed get insurance coverage until they get a new job, it forces irresponsible Republicans who had inadequate insurance coverage to end their dependence on Reagan’s socialist ER freebies and get insurance that meets minimum standards of coverage, it ended the pre-existing condition clause, and it extended insurance coverage to dependents until they are 26 years old.
    Most importantly, it is likely to curb the escalating cost of medical care in the USA, after decades of out of control cost increases, and it has the potential to eventually lead to universal healthcare coverage. The latter would reach ALL Americans and would help our corporations be more competitive by eliminating the unnecessary cost of paying for a middle man.
    Having said all this, I believe we should refocus our energies on other social and economic matters that need attention, and stop dancing to the tune the GOP is playing. Remember, we won in 2012. It is us who are supposed to be in control and setting the agenda, not the losers regardless of how much money their wealthy patrons are willing to spend.

    • Bud Friend

      Good read!!!

  • paulyz

    When the people that already “had” insurance are counted these figures aren’t accurate. Also, when Millions of Illegals get Obamacare, the costs will greatly increase. And don’ forget the cost to Medicare by taking $716 BILLION from it along with $500 BILLION in NEW taxes, and one can hardly call that a success. This is mostly political hype for the Democrats worried about re-election.

    • johninPCFL

      The same $716B that Paul Ryan and the rest of the GOP was planning to take? Except instead of calling consolidation and eliminating duplicate services “taking $716B” as ACA did, they were ACTUALLY CUTTING $716B FROM SERVICES.
      Illegals can’t get insurance unless the insurance company screws up, Lenny. Stop lying.

      • BillP

        John Paulyz is a spineless coward who write his comments filled with misinformation, lies and unproved “facts” then disappears back into his little room. He is just parroting what he hears on right wing media.

        • johninPCFL

          Even parrots have their place. By retelling the lies in public forums and having them refuted again and again, they help spread the truth.

          • Allan Richardson

            And by retelling the lies on media which do not bother (or want) to refute them, they spread the lies to those who watch that media.

    • Allan Richardson

      Illegals CANNOT get any policy under the Affordable Care Act. However, you might check to see if any unicorns or dragons are signing up.

  • latebloomingrandma

    Remember the TV show the A-Team? “I love it when a plan comes together.” Republicans hate that. A plan is not the enemy of liberty, which, from what I can only surmise. seems to be their mantra. For representatives of “the people”, that seems to be a weird way to think.

    • jointerjohn

      They are not representatives of the people they are representatives of big business. They hate this success because they have spent the last forty years trying to convince us that government can’t get anything right. They pretend to hate the poor with their attacks on health care, minimum wage and SNAP benefits, when what they actually hate is us and all those things that keep workers from being so broke, sick and hungry they will work for a dollar an hour.
      Republicans are obsessed with their money and other people’s sex lives. Don’t really give a damn about anything else.

      • ThomasBonsell

        Isn’t it interesting that Republicans are considered “representatives of big business” when in every economic or business-related category worth compiling they fall far short of Democrats.

        Job growth is higher under every Democratic administrations than under the GOP.

        The national GDP grows much more under Democrats than under Republicans.

        Since World War I every GOP administration has had a business-harming recession, some more than once, and a depression. Dem recessions are rare.

        The stock market does better under Dems. The left enjoys DJI gains of 13-14% annually; the GOP about 6%.

        Unemployment is much lower under Dems.

        In government, spending increases more under the GOP as do deficits and debt.

        Government employment increases under Republicans, falls under Democrats.

        It seems everything is better under Democratic leadership, and yet the GOP claims to be “business-friendly” and millions of American buy their crap.

        • jointerjohn

          Democratic leadership is indeed better for business, but democrats expect the wealth from those gains to be shared. The greedy at the top would rather have 100% of a little bit than to keep 25% of a whole lot. The pinnacle of greed is when one will destroy their only meal rather than share it. That’s the way many of them think.

      • Allan Richardson

        Their idea of “freedom” is freedom to do as they please, and freedom of everyone else to starve. Scott Brown made a true Freudian slip when, in announcing his race for the Senate from New Hampshire, he quoted their state motto as “Live Free AND Die.”

        North Korea is the freeest country in the world …
        for Kim Jong Un! Not so much for everybody else.

      • merr7242

        You hit that right on the head! Funny how much they love small government but, it doesn’t stop them from wanting to be in our bedrooms at night to make sure we don’t use birth control. With a steady climb of the population, why would anyone want to increase the population willy nilly? As far as I can tell, they only want exactly the opposite of what President Obama wants. To me, this is treason to put this country in a bad situation just to squelch the president and who cares about what it does to the people.

        • jointerjohn

          Caring about what happens to others is not even on their radar screen. They are entirely self-centered and not even decent enough to be coy about it.

  • charles king

    I hope these (Greedy Capitalistic Pigs, Plutocracts, Republicans and Democracts No-Do Nothingiers Etc.) start to -C- the light When? you do the Right thing for the people of this country Democracy Works, Obama care Works, Social Security Works, Medicare and Medicade Works the country becomes One again instead of have and have Nots. Your Vote is still Supreme, along with (Critical Thinking) Democracy is the best governing in the World. Thank You are the magic words in my book. I Love You All. Mr. C. E. KING

  • ps0rjl

    Here is the ACA in action paulyz. When I retired my wife was too young for Medicare so we had to buy private insurance. The cheapest we could buy was over $1500 a month because she has MS. Now with the ACA she has had since January great insurance for $505.58 a month and we don’t qualify for help in paying the premiums. Thank god for Obamacare. That is an actual case. Suck it paulyz and the rest of you Obama haters.