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Burwell: ACA Progress Caused Record Drop in Uninsured Rate

By Jacqueline DiChiara

- Over 17 million people have acquired healthcare coverage via Affordable Care Act (ACA) conditions with over 10 million uninsured individuals eligible for Marketplace coverage, according to a speech delivered earlier this week at Howard University College of Medicine by Sylvia M. Burwell, Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act

Secretary Burwell explained how the law is helping to promote greater access, increase healthcare’s affordability, and advance quality coverage, confirmed an HHS press release. Secretary Burwell additionally defined how the HHS is working to resolve a variety of anticipated challenges stemming from Open Enrollment for the Health Insurance Marketplaces.

Said Secretary Burwell, there are three key reasons for a decline in the number of uninsured individuals:

  • allowing young people up to age 26 to stay on their parents’ plans
  • the Medicaid expansion in 29 states plus DC
  • and the availability of affordable insurance through the Health Insurance Marketplaces

Noted declines in the number of uninsured individuals specifically according to various races, stated Secretary Burwell, are as follows:

  • 4.0 million Latino adults gained coverage (an 11.5 percent drop)
  • 2.6 million African American adults gained coverage (a 10.3 percent drop)
  • 7.4 million White adults gained coverage (a 6 percent drop)

Substantial progress has been made within the first five years after the ACA's implementation, including millions of more individuals having health insurance and the percentage of the uninsured having dropped to “the lowest level on record,” said Secretary Burwell.

“We now have a new opportunity before us to build on this progress,” Secretary Burwell confirmed in her speech. “We know current Marketplace customers are satisfied with their coverage, and we expect most to continue with it. We also believe we can continue to connect people with the coverage they need and further decrease the number of Americans without health insurance.”

Once November 1 hits, Open Enrollment in the Health Insurance Marketplace will begin its third year of implementation. Secretary Burwell confirmed that “overall, this Open Enrollment is going to be tougher than last year. But while those remaining uninsured may be harder to reach, we’re working smarter to reach them. We know Americans are depending on us, and we’re doing everything we can to help them find the coverage they need.”

Secretary Burwell highlighted the following essential facts about the Marketplace eligible uninsured:

  • About 10.5 million uninsured Americans are eligible for Marketplace coverage in the upcoming open enrollment.
  • While HHS will work to bolster enrollment across the nation, the Department’s top five target areas for outreach are Dallas, Houston, northern New Jersey, Chicago, and Miami – which are home to the highest numbers of uninsured who are eligible for Marketplace coverage.
  • Almost half of the uninsured individuals who are likely eligible for Marketplace plans are between the ages of 18 and 34.
  • Almost 40 percent of the uninsured who qualify for Marketplace plans are living between 139 and 250 percent of the federal poverty level (about $34,000 to $61,000 for a family of four).
  • Approximately one-third of the uninsured who qualify for Marketplace plans are people of color: approximately 19 percent are Hispanic, 14 percent are African American, and 2 percent are Asian American.

Secretary Burwell confirmed two key takeaways to consider regarding uninsured individuals – nearly half of the uninsured have no more than $100 in savings and nearly 3 in 5 confirm ongoing confusion about tax credit information.

As RevCycleIntelligence.com reported last year, matters of money remain at the forefront when it comes to answering the question of why people fail to acquire health insurance coverage. One survey claims at least 1 in 10 uninsured individuals do not obtain insurance because it is “too expensive.” Additionally, other data confirms over 1 in 4 individuals prefer to pay a tax penalty and health expense costs because doing so is simply cheaper than paying for health insurance.

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