HealthDay News — Nearly 17 million previously uninsured American patients now have health coverage, according to a report from the Rand Corporation.
“The Affordable Care Act (ACA) has greatly expanded health insurance coverage in the United States with little change in the source of coverage for those who were insured before the major provisions of the law took effect,” wrote Katherine G. Carman, an economist with the Rand Corporation in Santa Monica, California, and colleagues in Health Affairs.
To estimate insurance transitions between September 2013 and February 2015 — before and after the ACA‘s coverage-related provisions took effect — the investigators culled survey data from 1,589 patients, aged 18 to 64 years, who answered the RAND Health Reform Opinion Study.
Employer-sponsored health plans showed the biggest gain, with 9.6 million newly enrolled as a result of the health care legislation. Another 6.5 million were newly enrolled in Medicaid and 4.1 million were covered through newly created insurance marketplaces. The report also noted that 2.7 million were insured through non-marketplace plans and other sources. Despite these increases, 5.9 million patients lost coverage, noted the scientists.
Among the other findings: 11.2 million people are insured through state and federal marketplaces, including 4.1 million who are newly covered; among the 12.6 million people newly enrolled in Medicaid, 6.5 million were not insured previously; overall, the vast majority of Americans under age 65 experienced no change in insurance provider over the study period, while 24.6 million people changed insurance; and most insurance gains since the roll-out of ACA occurred during the first open enrollment period — between September 2013 and May 2014.
“The law has expanded coverage using all parts of the health insurance system, including employer-sponsored insurance, Medicaid, and the newly created Marketplaces,” concluded the study authors.
“While these data have limitations, especially due to the low response rate, they provide an early look at how the ACA has affected insurance enrollment.”