July 24, 2014 — About 10.3 million U.S. residents have gained health coverage since the fall 2013 launch of the initial open enrollment period for the Affordable Care Act's insurance marketplaces, according to a report published Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine, Reuters reports.
For the report, researchers from Brigham & Women's Hospital, the Harvard School of Public Health and the federal government analyzed census data, national survey results and government enrollment data (Morgan, Reuters, 7/23). The report is the first on newly insured adults to be published in a major medical journal and authored by federal health researchers (Galewitz, "Capsules," Kaiser Health News, 7/24).
According to the report, the uninsured rate among adults fell by 5.2 percentage points in 2014's second quarter. The most significant declines in the uninsured rate occurred among blacks, Latinos and young adults (Winfield Cunningham, Politico, 7/23).
The report authors said their data were not sufficient to demonstrate a causal relationship between the ACA and the uninsured rate, but rather showed "suggestive associations" (Reuters, 7/23). 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 (Attias, CQ Roll Call, 7/23).
The report also found that the uninsured rate for individuals with incomes below 138% of the federal poverty level declined by six percentage points in states that expanded Medicaid, while the uninsured rate for the same population declined by a "nonsignificant" 3.1 percentage points in states that did not expand Medicaid (Sommers et al., NEJM, 7/23).
HHS Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell said in a statement, "This study also reaffirms that expanding Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act is important for coverage, as well as a good deal for states" (Demko, Modern Healthcare, 7/23).
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 (NEJM, 7/23).