The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Can someone please print this graph on a T-shirt?! Sharp decline in the uninsured since the ACA came online.

Source: Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index
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As the figure above shows quite incredibly clearly, since the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, the share of the uninsured has fallen sharply.

As this Gallup-Healthways poll indicates, about 88 percent of adults are now covered, compared to about 82 percent at the peak uninsured rate before Obamacare kicked in. Moreover, the largest gains have accrued to the young, those with low incomes, and Hispanics. For example, since late 2013, the share of the uninsured is down just two percentage points for those with incomes about $90,000 (most of whom already had coverage); for those with incomes below $36,000, it’s down nine percentage points.

This is Obamacare at work. Among working-age adults (18-64), the share without any coverage fell from 20.8 percent in 2013Q4, to 14.5 percent in 2015Q1, with most of the new coverage coming from self-funding (people buying coverage from the exchanges) and the Medicaid expansions.

“The 21.1% of U.S. adults under the age of 65 who say they are covered by a self-funded plan is up 3.5 points since the fourth quarter of 2013. This is likely because more Americans have purchased individual plans through a federal or state health insurance exchange.”

I pay a lot of attention to economic trends and here’s a fact: variables like the “uninsurance rate” are very “sticky” year-to-year. So when you see an obvious break in trend in a series like this, something happened.

The Affordable Care Act is, of course, what happened, and while increased coverage was but one of its goals, in that space, it is clearly have its intended effect. (There’s also evidence that it’s helping to hold down costs, another critical goal.)

And note that this progress occurred–is occurring–in the face of massive political opposition. Imagine how far along we might be if the program’s implementation was accommodated instead of blocked by partisans at both the federal and state levels.

I’m tempted to print this graph on a bunch of T-shirts and give them out to anyone nerdy enough to march around with it on. I’ll meet you down by the Supreme Court…

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