Go tell it on the mountain, or in the Oval Office in the White House in Washington or at the Statehouse in Columbus, that Obamacare is working pretty damn well, despite efforts by Republicans from 2010 to today to scuttle it or disable it whenever the political opportunity has presented itself.
Released Tuesday by the U.S. Census Bureau, “Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2016” paints an accurate picture of health insurance coverage by state that easily counters critics of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) who say it’s failing.
Down Is Good
Taking it from the top, the uninsured rate for the nation dropped from 9.1 percent in 2015 to 8.8 percent now. Americans without health insurance fell to 28.1 million in 2016, down from 29 million in 2015. Phil Galewitz at Kaiser Health News added a great reminder to those who need a history refresher:
“When Obama took office in 2009, during the worst economic recession since the Great Depression, more than 50 million Americans were uninsured, or nearly 17 percent of the population.” He added that, “both the overall number of uninsured and the percentage are record lows.”
These new numbers show that Obamacare (aka Affordable Care Act) has performed better than expected in extending access to healthcare coverage. The top beneficiaries have been people who choose to work part-time (80 percent of part-time employment is voluntary), who no longer need to get coverage through an employer as a result of the exchanges and the expansion of Medicaid.
The biggest uptick in coverage, by employment, was among those working part-time, the report said. The percentage uninsured among this group fell by 9.0 percentage points to 14.8 percent. For those who did not work at all the percent uninsured fell by 7.4 percentage points to 15.0 percent. And for full-time, full-year, workers, the drop was 4.1 percentage points to 9.8 percent.
The report presents statistics on health insurance coverage in the United States based on information collected in the 2014, 2015, 2016, and 2017 Current Population Survey Annual Social and Economic Supplements and the American Community Survey, the report notes. As experts have said, accuracy is very good because samples sizes are so large, so denying the numbers based on sample size is fake news at its fakiest.
ACA 2010 Works Better Than ‘Kasich Works’ 2016
By state, Ohio looks better than other states where Republican governors and their Republican-run legislatures dissed Obamacare by not accepting it, hurting their citizens as they sweated over federal budget deficits.
In Table A-5 of the report, Number of People Without Health Insurance Coverage by State from 2013 to 2016, Ohio had 1,258,000 uninsured in 2013, a figure that dropped to 544,000 in 2016, representing a reduction of 57 percent. Not bad for a healthcare law President Donald Trump has declared a failure, and that Ohio Gov. John Kasich and sidekick Lt. Mary Taylor have hammered as fatally flawed from its passage in early 2010.
Report authors Jessica C. Barnett and Edward R. Berchick offered the following highlights:
- The uninsured rate decreased between 2015 and 2016 by 0.3 percentage points as measured by the CPS ASEC. In 2016, the percentage of people without health insurance coverage for the entire calendar year was 8.8 percent, or 28.1 million, lower than the rate and number of uninsured in 2015 (9.1 percent or 29.0 million).
- The percentage of people with health insurance coverage for all or part of 2016 was 91.2 percent, higher than the rate in 2015 (90.9 percent).
- In 2016, private health insurance coverage continued to be more prevalent than government coverage, at 67.5 percent and 37.3 percent, respectively. Of the subtypes of health insurance
coverage, employer-based insurance covered 55.7 percent of the population for some or all of the calendar year, followed by Medicaid (19.4 percent), Medicare (16.7 percent), direct-purchase (16.2 percent), and military coverage (4.6 percent).
- Between 2015 and 2016, the rate of Medicare coverage increased by 0.4 percentage points to cover 16.7 percent of people for part or all of 2016 (up from 16.3 percent.
For those who don’t care to study it, here are some additional report helpers:
- By state, the largest drop in the percent of the population that is uninsured was in California, which had a decline of 9.8 percentage points to 7.3 percent. Next was New Mexico with a decline of 9.5 percentage points, giving it an uninsurance rate of 9.2 percent, and Nevada with a drop of 9.3 percentage points to 11.4 percent.
- The smallest decline over this period was in Massachusetts, where the percent uninsured fell by just 1.2 percentage points, but this is due to the fact that it had an uninsured rate of just 3.7 percent in 2013. Wyoming had the second smallest decline, with the rate falling by 1.3 percentage points to 1.9 percent.
- Texas, Alaska, and Oklahoma had the highest uninsured rate in 2016, at 16.6 percent, 14.0 percent, and 13.8 percent, respectively. The lowest rates were in Massachusetts, 2.5 percent, Hawaii, 3.5 percent, and Vermont, 3.7 percent.
These numbers, accurate, fair and balanced as they are, should convince even the most skeptical critics that the ACA is doing the best it can under the circumstances. For those who don’t want to applaud it, including Ohio’s term-limited, lame-duck governor or the dozen Republican members of Ohio’s delegation in Washington, the truth is out there and in this report if you care to find it.
The real hoax, of course, is that hard-of-thinking Republicans are faced with the reality that either they are right and the numbers are wrong, or the numbers are right and they’re wrong. Place your bets on the Census Bureau when it comes to accuracy. Place your bets on Republicans when accuracy born of misbegotten political ideology is at stake.
For common sense thinkers who don’t easily swallow GOP claptrap whole because it makes them sick in their head and stomach, today’s report by the Census Bureau offers a reality check that can’t be ignored, just like climate change deniers couldn’t ignore the reality of two monster hurricanes sweeping ashore in Texas and Florida as high-force winds demolished most in their path.