Survey: 9.5 million people gained health coverage in first marketplace enrollment period

McClatchy Washington BureauJuly 10, 2014 

— - Some 9.5 million Americans gained health coverage during the recent marketplace enrollment period as the uninsured rate for working-age adults fell from 20 percent to 15 percent, according to a new national survey by the Commonwealth Fund.

Young adults ages 19-34, whose participation in the Affordable Care Act’s coverage initiative was crucial but always uncertain, saw some of the largest coverage gains. Their uninsured rate fell from 28 percent to 18 percent.

Uninsured rates for Latinos fell from 36 percent to 23 percent, the survey found. And low-income adults earning less than 138 percent of the federal poverty level saw their uninsured rate drop from 35 percent to 24 percent.

The findings suggest the health law is meeting its goal of increasing coverage for hard-to-reach groups. Sixty-three percent of adults with new coverage through Medicaid or the insurance marketplaces were previously uninsured, the survey found.

“Adults who are being helped the most are those who historically have had the greatest difficulty affording health insurance and getting the care they need,” said Sara Collins, the lead survey researcher and Vice President for Health Care Coverage and Access at the Commonwealth Fund.

The national survey of more than 4,400 people found that in states that expanded eligibility for Medicaid, the uninsured rate among people below the federal poverty line fell from 28 percent to 17 percent. In non-expansion states, the uninsured rate for these adults fell only slightly, from 38 percent to 36 percent.

Young adults ages 19 to 34 made up the largest share of new Medicaid enrollees at 42 percent, the survey found.

Sixty percent of adults with new coverage had used it to fill a prescription or visit a doctor or hospital by June. Among those that did, 62 percent said they wouldn’t have been able to do so without their new coverage.

And while marketplace coverage has been noted for having narrow networks of care providers, 54 percent of survey respondents said their plan included all or some of the doctors they preferred. And more than 60 percent were able to get an appointment with their new primary care physician within two weeks, the survey found.

To view the survey results, go to http://www.commonwealthfund.org/publications/issue-briefs/2014/jul/Health-Coverage-Access-ACA.

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