Uninsured Rate for Poor, Childless Adults Declines

By: - April 10, 2017 12:00 am

A new study shows that the health uninsurance rate among poor, childless adults dropped 47 percent under Obamacare.

© The Associated Press

Editor’s note: this story has been updated with the correct number of states that have expanded Medicaid.

As the Trump administration and Republicans in Congress explore ways of repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act, a new study shows how beneficial the law has been to poor adults who don’t have children.

The study by the Urban Institute found that between 2013 and 2015, the rate of poor, childless adults without health insurance fell by 47.1 percent.

For low-income, childless adults who were in fair or poor health, the results were even more dramatic. The rate of uninsured among that group fell by nearly 62 percent.

The rates of people without coverage came down as a result of the ACA’s expansion in eligibility qualifications for Medicaid, the joint federal-state health plan for those living on low incomes. The law opened eligibility to childless adults whose income was below 138 percent of the federal poverty line.

While the expanded Medicaid eligibility criteria were intended to apply nationwide, a 2012 Supreme Court ruling made expansion optional for the states. As of now, 31 states plus Washington, D.C., have expanded coverage.

The study, which was funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation public health philanthropy, shows a sharp contrast in the percentage of poor childless adults without insurance between the states that expanded Medicaid coverage and those that didn’t. In expansion states, the rate was 16.5 percent in 2015 compared to 47.8 percent in non-expansion states.

For the entire population of non-elderly people, the uninsured rate fell from 16.6 percent in 2013 to 10.5 percent in 2015.

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Michael Ollove

Michael Ollove covers health care for Stateline. Ollove worked for many years at The Baltimore Sun, as an enterprise reporter and an editor.