A key provision of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) gives states the option to expand their Medicaid programs to provide healthcare coverage to more low-income adults. States that decided to expand their Medicaid programs saw sharper reductions in their uninsured rates from 2013 to 2015, particularly in states that had high uninsured rates to begin with.
This finding, based on data from the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, appeared in an academic article by President Barack Obama published July 11 in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA). This marks the first time a sitting president has published a scholarly article.
The president used data from the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index to assess trends in insurance coverage. He referenced an article by Dan Witters, the research director for the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, showing that states that expanded Medicaid and adopted a state-based marketplace exchange saw nearly double the reduction in uninsured rates compared with states that did one or neither.
The Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index is one of the most authoritative measures used to determine whether the ACA is meeting its objective of insuring more Americans. Since 2008, Gallup and Healthways have interviewed at least 500 U.S. adults almost every day of the year about their well-being, including asking whether they have health insurance and the type of coverage they have. Gallup and Healthways were among the first to detect monthly changes in the uninsured rate after key provisions of the ACA went into effect -- provisions such as the ability for young adults to stay on a parent's plan until age 26 and the requirement for most Americans to carry health insurance.
Gallup and Healthways currently estimate the U.S. adult uninsured rate to be 11.0%, a net reduction of about 15.4 million uninsured adults since 2013. Our research also reveals that across key subgroups, Hispanics and those living in households earning less than $36,000 per year have seen the sharpest declines in their uninsured rates since 2013. Blacks and those aged 18 to 34 have also seen large drops in their uninsured rates.
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Learn more about how the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index works.