16.9 Million More Americans Insured Under Obamacare, Study Says

v_sundaram_viet_500x279Nearly 17 million Americans have gained health insurance since key provisions of the Affordable Care Act were implemented in 2013, according to a study by non-profit research organization RAND Corp. The report, released Wednesday, May 6, in the journal Health Affairs, found that from September 2013 to February 2013, 22.8 million individuals signed up for coverage, while 5.9 million lost coverage, resulting in a net gain of 16.9 million. The study examined a sample of about 1,600 people who were surveyed in 2013 and 2015.

Because of the small number, findings should be considered rough estimates rather than precise measurements, according to Bloomberg. However, because researchers queried the same people twice, they were able to obtain a more in-depth look into how coverage shifted in the 18-month time period. “While the vast majority of those previously insured experienced no change in their source of coverage, 5.9 million people lost coverage over the period studied, and 24.6 million moved from one source of coverage to another,” the researchers wrote.

Among sources of coverage included employers (9.6 million), Medicaid (6.5 million) and Obamacare marketplaces (4.1 million). Gains occurred in all these areas, said Katherine Carman, lead author of the study and an economist at RAND.

Carman also said that although the Affordable Care Act has greatly expanded health insurance coverage, it has not changed the way most previously-insured Americans are obtaining coverage. Employer-sponsored health insurance is the largest source of coverage among Americans younger than the age of 65, according to the study.

Much concern regarding coverage rose in 2013 when insurers voided millions of older plans that did not meet ObamaCare standards, but the report notes that the number of individuals that were losing coverage was nearly the same level as it was before. “We found that the vast majority of those with individual market insurance in 2013 remained insured in 2015, which suggests that even among those who had their individual market policies canceled, most found coverage through an alternative source,” the study states.

The RAND report shows that approximately 600,000 out of 8.5 million who lost their individual health policies for not meeting Affordable Care Act requirements ended up uninsured. In contrast, more than half of the 43 million who were uninsured in September 2013 had coverage in February 2015.

Carman’s team found that 11.2 million purchased health insurance on the government marketplaces, which is close to the federal government’s estimate of 11.7 million. Although people may have obtained coverage independently of the Affordable Care Act, such as by securing jobs with health benefits, the expansion of Medicaid and subsidized marketplaces was a significant factor in the increase, according to Bloomberg.

Data from a Gallup poll reflects a similar estimate to the study, posting that 16.4 million people gaining coverage under the Affordable Care Act. The Gallup Corporation and the Department of Health and Human Services estimate that about 13 percent of American adults still do not have health insurance coverage.

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