For nearly 18 million Americans, the Affordable Care Act spelled an end to months, years or sometimes even decadeswithout health insurance. But for half of the 32.3 million Americans who remain uninsured after the law went into effect, key provisions of Obamacare won’t help them, an analysis published Tuesday showed.
In the U.S., 16.6 million people do not qualify for health insurance under the provisions of the Affordable Care Act, the Kaiser Family Foundation found, just as the Obama administration and insurance advocates are gearing up for a new push to encourage uninsured Americans to sign up for insurance during the nextopen enrollmentperiod, scheduled to begin Nov. 1. The administration has said it will focus thoseefforts on areas where uninsured rates are highest, but the new report underscored significant barriers remain in reaching those who, for one reason or another, still do not have healthcare coverage.
The Affordable Care Act, the landmark healthcare law that President Barack Obama signed in 2010, drastically reshaped healthcare coverage in the country. Young adults can now stay on their parents’ health insurance plans until they are 26, and more low-income people can sign up for Medicaid in some states. The law also created state or federally run exchanges on which people could buy health insurance and receive subsidies from the government to offset the cost, if they qualified financially.
“Everybody should have some basic security when it comes to their healthcare,” Obama said in 2010, just before signed the law. “Once this reform is implemented, health insurance exchanges will be created, a competitive marketplace where uninsured people and small businesses will finally be able to purchase affordable, quality insurance,” he said.
@rodmonian44 Uninsurance rates have been on a steady decline since law was implemented. http://t.co/9Q9ffXy035 pic.twitter.com/c7PFAyomVn
— Jamelle Booo-eeee! (@jbouie) January 30, 2015
While the law has drastically reduced the rates of the uninsured in the U.S., itis not perfect, and it doesn’t work for everyone.
Of those who were both uninsured and ineligible for Obamacare, Kaiser’s analysis found thatabout one fifth, or 3.1 million, fell into what’s called the coverage gap, where they earn too much to qualify for Medicaid but too little to qualify for subsidized plans bought on the exchange. That’s because Obamacare originally required states to expand Medicaid, the joint state-federal health insurance program for low-income adults, to include those who earned 138 percent or less of the federal poverty level.But in June 2012, the Supreme Court ruled that expanding Medicaid was optional for states.
So far 30 states and Washington, D.C. have expanded Medicaid. Residents in the other 20 states risk falling into the crack between Obamacare’s intended expansion and the subsequentdecision of some states not to extent Medicaid to low-income residents. Of those states, Texas, Florida, Georgia and North Carolina have the highest numbers of people who fall into thegap.
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