Has Obamacare worked? Experts say yes

Has Obamacare worked? Experts say yes
March 21 01:00 2016

Has Obamacare worked? Experts say yes

There’s growing evidence that most of the dramatic gain in the number of Americans with health care coverage is due to President Obama’s law, and not the gradual recovery of the nation’s economy.

That could pose a political risk for Republicans running against ‘‘Obamacare’’ in the GOP primaries as they shift to the general election later this year.

While the health care law remains highly unpopular in the party, the prospect of taking away health care coverage from millions of people could trigger a backlash if the eventual GOP nominee’s plan to replace it is seen as coming up short.

‘‘There are different phases of the campaign,’’ said GOP pollster Bill McInturff. Playing to like-minded voters in the primaries, Republican front-runner Donald Trump doesn’t have to spell how he’d replace Obama’s law. ‘‘When you get to the general election, the demand for what you are going to do different starts to escalate.’’

Under ‘‘Obamacare,’’ the share of Americans without health insurance has dropped to a historic low of about 9 percent, with room to go even lower. But even as the economy has expanded, major government surveys point to a lackluster rebound for employer-based coverage.

‘‘It’s very clear that the Affordable Care Act has done most of the work in decreasing the number of uninsured,’’ said economist Robert Kaestner of the University of Illinois Chicago.

The numbers vary across different government surveys, but the overall pattern is strikingly similar:

■ The Census Bureau’s American Community Survey found about 3 million more people gained employer coverage between 2010, when the health law passed, and 2014. But the number of uninsured people dropped by more than 10 million during that same period. The strongest gains appeared to come from Medicaid, which was expanded under Obama’s law. The percentage of Americans covered by employers stayed about the same.

■ The National Health Interview Survey from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also found that employer coverage was essentially flat between 2010 and 2014. But the same survey found 12.6 million more people with health insurance during that period.

■ The Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey found no statistically significant change in the number of people covered by employers from 2013 to 2014, while the number of uninsured people dropped by nearly 9 million as the law’s main coverage expansion got underway during that time.

‘‘This kind of shift in insurance I don’t think can be explained by the economy,’’ economist Christine Eibner of the RAND Corporation said. ‘‘The increase [in coverage] is large enough that it can’t be driven by just economic recovery.’’…

Read full story at The Boston Globe
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